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Palo Alto Networks partners say they expect to see sales growth of 50 percent to 100 percent in 2014 even as larger competitors such as Cisco Systems and McAfee move aggressively to capture a slice of the booming next-generation firewall market.
The charged-up partners gathered at the Hard Rock Hotel in San Diego for the fourth annual Palo Alto Networks Americas Partner Conference say that kind of growth is what they have come to expect over the past several years. Of the 150 top-tier Palo Alto Americas partners attending the conference, 141 have doubled their sales in the past year.
Partners say they expect that to continue as Palo Alto expands its reach from the perimeter into the data center with the advent of software-defined networking. And they say the Santa Clara, Calif., company is stepping up its game with new sales tools aimed at driving growth as it revs up its 100-percent-channel-focused model to reach into the top 2,000 corporate accounts in the country.
Nexum, a national $75 million solution provider with 11 offices throughout the country, doubled its Palo Alto business to $6 million this year and expects to double it again in 2014 to $12 million, said J.D. Butt, vice president of solutions at Nexum, Chicago.
Nexum initially was skeptical about the Palo Alto unified threat management product and was "essentially forced" to add the product to its line card two and a half years ago because of customer interest, said Butt.
"We have been very, very happy with Palo Alto," he said. "It has been easy to sell. We have seen even in the very large enterprises where traditionally they are very slow to take on technology, they are seeing the benefits of Palo Alto. Customers are seeing that they can reduce some of the spend on some of the other technologies even though Palo Alto is a premium [product], especially when you compare it to a Cisco. We've had great success with it."
Palo Alto's firewall is the only one that has been accepted by both security and networking specialists in top enterprises, Butt said. That's no small matter given the technology battle lines in corporate America. "A lot of pure networking guys are scared of pure firewall products," he said, noting the preference of some networking specialists to side with Cisco. "Both sides gravitate to Palo Alto," he said.