Five Companies That Came To Win This Week

For the week ending Feb. 2, CRN takes a look at the companies that brought their ‘A’ game to the channel including Check Point Software Technologies, Avalara, Databricks, Dynatrace, Hitachi Vantara and Cisco Systems.

The Week Ending Feb. 2

Topping this week’s Came to Win list is Check Point Software Technologies for launching a significant upgrade of its channel program that includes changes to the tiering system, pricing, certifications and deal protection.

Also making this week’s list is tax compliance software developer Avalara for a major expansion of its own partner program. Data lakehouse platform provider Databricks made a savvy acquisition this week in the natural language processing space, while observability tech developer Dynatrace is here with an acquisition in AI-powered cloud security.

And the duo of Hitachi Vantara and Cisco Systems are here for the latest fruits of their long-time alliance, a new joint offering in the hybrid cloud managed services space.

Check Point Debuts New Partner Program With Simplified Tiers, Free Certifications

Check Point Software Technologies wins applause this week for unveiling its new channel program with an array of updates for partners across the tiering system, pricing, certifications and deal protection.

In an interview with CRN, global channel chief Francisco Criado said the enhancements are aimed at helping to accelerate the company’s expansion with partners in areas beyond its core network security segment, such as email, cloud and endpoint security.

“We want them to sell our comprehensive portfolio,” said Criado, vice president of global partner ecosystem organization. “They'll be rewarded for selling beyond network security, competitive displacement, investing in specialization and attracting new customers.”

Key components of the new partner program include a simplified tier structure, with the program moving from six tiers to four. Along with simplifying the program, the move is targeted at creating more differentiation between the tiers for partners. Among the biggest additions to the Check Point program is the introduction of free base-level certifications for partners.

Check Point is also introducing a more predictable and automated pricing system. Other updates include a new incumbency program that offers improved protection for partners around deal renewals with existing customers. And Check Point is now making deal registration available to every single partner tier, including for partners in the entry-level tier that did not previously have access to deal registration.

Avalara Launches Enhanced Channel Program Tailored To Its Diverse Partner Base

Staying on the topic of partner program launches, tax compliance application developer Avalara also wins kudos for launching a significant update to its partner program that offers a new tier structure for different partner types, a new partner relationship management platform, and expanded incentives and resources for partners.

The new Avalara Partner Program was developed to help the fast-growing company scale its channel operations more effectively and modernize its channel approach to meet the needs of its evolving base of technology, consulting, accounting and MSP partners, said Meghan Higgins, senior vice president of global partners at Avalara.

The new program offers three tiers: Authorized, Preferred and Premier, with separate tracks for each partner motion: refer, expand services and build integrations. Partners move up the tiers, which offer increasing levels of financial incentives and co-marketing resources, based on their level of engagement with the company.

Some of the new program offerings include multi-year financial incentives and paying rewards for sales to existing customers, such as upsell and cross-sell deals, in addition to the rewards it now pays for sales to new customers.

A new PRM system supports a new partner portal that will make it easier for partners to access sales and marketing resources, receive technical support and maximize revenue potential. The company has also created a partner engagement desk to help partners with both technical and business questions.

Databricks Boosts Natural Language Processing Capabilities With Latest Acquisition

Databricks this week bought Einblick, a pioneer in natural language processing (NLP) technology, in a savvy acquisition deal that will expand the query capabilities of the Databricks Data Intelligence Platform to a broader audience of users.

Einblick develops an AI-native data notebook that makes it possible to build data queries – even entire data workflows – using a single sentence. The software includes techniques for translating natural language questions into the code, charts and models needed to generate insights, according to Databricks.

Databricks plans to incorporate Einblick’s technology into the Databricks platform, “enabling organizations to democratize data intelligence and create the next generation of data and AI applications with quality, speed and agility,” the company said.

The acquisition also brings Einblick’s expertise to Databricks: The startup’s key personnel include AI and NLP researchers from MIT and Brown University.

Databricks has been active on the acquisition front in the last year including spending $1.3 billion to buy generative AI startup MosaicML in June 2023.

Dynatrace To Buy Runecast To Boost AI-Powered Cloud Security

Speaking of savvy acquisitions this week, application observability and security tech provider Dynatrace has a deal to buy AI security specialist Runecast in a move to enable users to perform threat detection and incident response as well as to proactively address misconfigurations and compliance violations in hybrid and multi-cloud environments.

Dynatrace plans to embed Runecast’s AI-powered security and compliance software into its own unified observability and security platform to expand Dynatrace’s cloud-native application security protection capabilities.

The addition will help businesses and organizations proactively address the risks of misconfigurations and compliance violations in hybrid and multi-cloud environments using AI-driven, automated, real-time vulnerability assessments. It also will allow customers perform threat detection and incident response with full context detailing their security vulnerabilities, affected applications, risk levels and attack vectors.

Cisco, Hitachi Vantara Team On XaaS, Hybrid Cloud Managed Services

Cisco Systems and Hitachi Vantara are once again joining forces, this time to address ongoing enterprise data management challenges.

The latest joint hybrid cloud service offering from the two tech giants, Hitachi EverFlex with Cisco Powered Hybrid Cloud, will help enterprises and channel partners as they adopt cloud services while also keeping cost, flexibility and security in mind, the companies said.

Hitachi EverFlex is the company’s everything-as-a-service (XaaS) portfolio that includes storage as a service, data protection as a service and infrastructure as a service. Hitachi EverFlex with Cisco Powered Hybrid Cloud combines Hitachi Vantara’s core storage offerings, infrastructure, managed services, and hybrid cloud management with Cisco’s expertise in networking and computing.

The offering links together several platforms from both companies, including Hitachi Infrastructure Orchestration as a Service (HIOaaS) and Cisco Intersight, the company’s infrastructure management platform. It also includes hardware from Cisco, including the Catalyst and Nexus switch series.

The joint offering gives businesses the same experience whether used on-premises or in the cloud, according to Hitachi Vantara.

Cisco and Hitachi have been partners for about 20 years and Hitachi is bringing “the full as-a-service experience” through its EverFlex consumption model, said Alexandra Zagury, Cisco vice president of partner managed services and as-a-service sales. He added that Hitachi EverFlex with Cisco Powered Hybrid Cloud is very much aligned with Cisco’s own as-a-service push, an effort that the company has been promoting since its Cisco Plus strategy was unveiled in 2021.