5 Companies That Came To Win This Week

For the week ending March 10, CRN takes a look at the companies that brought their ‘A’ game to the channel including zero trust security provider Zscaler, along with Cradlepoint, NetBrain, Upstack, Fulcrum IT Partners and Advizex.


The Week Ending March 10

Topping this week’s Came to Win list is zero trust security provider Zscaler for a major channel management hire.

Also making this week’s list are Cradlepoint for partner program improvements targeting MSPs and NetBrain for launching a significantly revamped channel program with the goal of significantly boosting growth.

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Solution providers Fulcrum IT Partners and Advizex are on this week’s list thanks to the former’s acquisition of the latter in a deal to create an Everything-as-a-Service channel leader.

And fast-growing solution provider and telecommunications agent Upstack continued its buying spree with its acquisitions of IT consulting firm The Monaco Group and the network and cloud sourcing business of IT management specialist LinkSource Technologies.

Zscaler Hires Palo Alto Networks Veteran Soderlund To Lead All-Out Channel Charge

Zero trust security powerhouse Zscaler made a big move in channel leadership this week when it hired Karl Soderlund, Palo Alto Networks’ six-year channel veteran, as its new top channel executive.

Soderlund, who played a critical role in growing the zero trust cloud footprint of Palo Alto Networks’ partners, told CRN that in his new post he’s going to look at how Zscaler can evolve its partner program to make it more beneficial and profitable for the company’s partner community.

Soderlund’s appointment comes with Zscaler aggressively expanding its zero trust platform over the past several years. Zscaler was founded as a secure web gateway provider but now provides its partners with a full complement of zero trust security services that range from cloud workload security to digital experience monitoring.

Soderlund describes Zscaler as “in build mode right now.” His first order of business is a worldwide listening tour with Zscaler partners, many of whom he already knows from his time with Palo Alto Networks. His tour will focus on understanding “what’s working, what can be improved and what the vision and future should look like between the ecosystem partners and Zscaler,” he said.

Cradlepoint Launches MSP Initiatives To Turbocharge Enterprise 5G Adoption

Cradlepoint is zeroing in on MSPs with new resources and benefits that better align with the managed services route to market.

This week Ericsson-owned Cradlepoint unveiled significant updates to its partner program designed to target global MSP businesses and reward partners for building out their managed services practices.

The MSP arm of Cradlepoint’s existing partner program will now include updated benefits and requirements that align with the MSP practice such as white glove logistics support, an MSP playbook, and a flexible subscription model and pricelist designed to give MSP partners the ability to better control their customer life cycles and scale up and down as needed.

“We’re really doubling down in that part of our go-to-market. We’ve seen many partners really growing their managed services practice … we see that as one of our fastest growth areas and Cradlepoint is built very well and conducive to managed services,” said Eric Purcell, senior vice president of global partner sales.

The MSP initiatives were unveiled at Cradlepoint’s North American Partner Summit in Austin, Texas. The Boise, Idaho-based company has seen a significant increase in interest around enterprise 5G as businesses turn to cellular connectivity options to complement their existing wireless environments and to fulfill new use cases in which existing Wi-Fi solutions fall short.

NetBrain Channel Program Overhauled To Spur 10X Growth

Staying on the topic of partner program upgrades, network automation specialist NetBrain Technologies this week debuted a nearly completely new version of its channel partner program with the goal of spurring 10X growth.

NetBrain already does the majority of its business through channel partners, but now is the time for the company to significantly expand its channel reach, according to Alex Alvarez, senior vice president of strategic partnership and channel sales. “We see the ability to grow really fast and scale as directly tied to the success of our partners,” he said.

The need for network automation has arguably never been higher as businesses search for ways to do more with less, grapple with talent shortages and accommodate hybrid work and distributed end users. The company has increased its own annual recurring revenue by 220 percent over the last three years.

NetOps and automation provide a new, valuable revenue stream for partners, Alvarez said. The focus of the new program is to make it “very lucrative” for partners who are selling NetBrain and building out their networking services practices, while at the same time making the program simpler.

NetBrain’s fully revamped channel program offers several enhancements compared with its current program, including dedicated partner managers and resources, expanded MDF programs, new sales tools and joint selling assistance, structured training for sales and presales teams, and additional discounts and margin for deal registration and development.

Fulcrum IT Partners Acquires Advizex For Huge Everything-As-A-Service Expansion

Global IT solution provider Fulcrum IT Partners acquired Advizex this week in a move that will fuel the move of both to expand their Everything-as-a-Service businesses.

Advizex will be dramatically expanding its fast-growing on-premises cloud consumption footprint as a result of the acquisition, Advizex President and CEO C.R. Howdyshell (pictured) told CRN. Advizex made a big bet on Everything as a Service and on-premises, pay-per-use cloud consumption three years ago in a move that paid off with dramatic growth in managed services.

Advizex will now become the linchpin in an Everything-as-a-Service push by Fulcrum IT Partners, which plans to acquire other solution providers over the course of the next year.

Upstack Buying Spree Continues With TMG, LinkSource Acquisitions

After making 12 acquisitions in 2022, fast-growing solution provider and telecommunications agent Upstack is continuing its buying spree in 2023 as part of its goal of becoming one of the largest agents in the world.

This week Upstack, based in New York, said it had acquired consulting firm The Monaco Group (TMG) and the network and cloud sourcing business of IT management specialist LinkSource Technologies.

TMG, an Intelisys Platinum Partner based in Boca Raton, Fla., has extensive customer reach in cloud, network, communications and cybersecurity. Roseville, Calif.-based LinkSource, also an Intelisys Platinum Partner, provides network and cloud sourcing services. In addition to the acquisition Upstack is partnering with LinkSource’s technology hardware sourcing business.

Upstack was launched in 2017, backed by private equity firm Berkshire Partners, with the goal of transforming the way digital infrastructure is sourced and sold. Since its founding, Upstack has acquired more than 25 companies. Acquisitions in 2022 included Connecticut-based DVP Technologies and Clifton, N.Y-based telecom company Subsidium Technologies.