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Palo Alto Networks, the fast-growing next-generation firewall vendor, is kicking off its fourth annual Americas partner conference this week in San Diego with the appointment of its first worldwide channel chief.
The Santa Clara, Calif., company said Ron Myers, a 15-year channel veteran and the former senior vice president of global channels for videoconferencing vendor Polycom, started Monday in the new job, just in time for Palo Alto Networks' Americas Partner Conference set for San Diego at the Hard Rock Hotel taking place Oct. 2-4. Of the 150 top-tier Palo Alto Americas partners attending the conference, 141 have doubled their sales in the last year.
Myers, a four-year Polycom channel executive recognized multiple times in CRN's annual Channel Chief list, relaunched the Polycom Choice Partner Program winning "Five-Star Partner" ratings for the program for three consecutive years. Myers is coming to a company with a 100 percent-channel model with all of its $400 million in sales going through partners.
"This is another indicator that Palo Alto Networks is all-in with the channel," said Pradeep Aswani, founder and director of Cloud Harmonics, a next-generation security distributor based in Sunnyvale, Calif. "They are bringing on board high-quality people. They are doubling down on their channel commitment."
Aswani, a 25-year technology veteran, said he has rarely seen the level of channel commitment combined with technology leadership that Palo Alto, a leader in Gartner's 2013 next-generation firewall Magic Quadrant, is bringing to partners. "As a distributor collaborating with the Palo Alto channel, we see the numbers and commitment growing," he said. "I have been in the firewall business for many, many years. Palo Alto is leaps and bounds ahead of other companies."
Palo Alto Networks Chief Marketing Officer Rene Bonvanie said even with fiscal year 2014 sales ended July 31 growing 55 percent to nearly $396.1 million, the next-generation firewall pioneer is just scratching the surface of the $10 billion to $12 billion market opportunity.
"We are still only a 4 to 5 percent shareholder in this market," he said. "That means there is 95 percent of the market left for us to take. There is a lot of opportunity to take money out of pockets of Cisco, Juniper and Check Point. The partner conference is aimed at extending the [next-generation firewall] land grab."
Bonvanie said it is still early days in the next-generation firewall market with many partners yet to make a big bet. "I still see there are partners holding out to some extent or who have not necessarily been as forthcoming because they have large interests in large competitors," he said. "Gradually, as you expect, they start following the money."