Fastly Revamps Partner Program To Harness ‘Huge Untapped Potential’ In The Channel

The edge cloud platform provider is debuting flexible consumption models and making its entire portfolio of network services and web application security products available to partners, Fastly CEO Todd Nightingale and Channel Chief Emily Friedberg tell CRN.


Fastly Channel Chief Emily Friedberg

Fastly unveiled a revamped partner program Monday that aims to boost the availability and appeal of its edge cloud platform to the channel, including by opening up its full portfolio of products to partners and debuting new flexible consumption models.

The move represents a major push by the content delivery and web application security vendor to work with partners in a much bigger way than ever before, according to CEO Todd Nightingale and Channel Chief Emily Friedberg.

[Related: Fastly CEO Todd Nightingale: New Partner-Focused CDN Strategy Is ‘First Of Its Kind’]

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While the initiative partly involves updating the Fastly offering to make it more palatable to the channel, the company believes there’s also an opportunity to break new ground by incentivizing partners to bring its content delivery technology to customers, Nightingale said. That’s never been attempted previously with CDN technology in a “partner-friendly” manner, he said.

One outcome, the Fastly executives told CRN, should be a substantial increase in the percentage of the company’s revenue that flows through partners such as VARs, system integrators, MSPs/MSSPs and consultants.

With the updates, Fastly is “ensuring that the entire platform, the entire portfolio, is as channel-friendly as it can possibly be,” Nightingale said.

A Cisco Systems veteran who joined Fastly as CEO last August, Nightingale said he brought with him a conviction that partners could help Fastly put its growth into “another gear.”

A publicly traded vendor that was founded in 2011, Fastly saw revenue for the full-year 2022 rise 22 percent to reach $432.7 million, with sales in its fourth quarter growing at the same pace.

Fastly didn’t disclose an exact percentage of its revenue currently generated through the channel. Friedberg, group vice president of global partnerships at Fastly, said the percentage is “in [the vicinity of] the teens.”

Looking ahead, “we have an expectation to grow significantly there,” she said.

Opening Up The Portfolio

Fastly’s edge cloud platform consists of two established product areas — network services and security — as well as two product segments, compute and observability, that are newer for the vendor.

To date, the product that has enjoyed the “healthiest” channel endeavor for Fastly is its next-generation web application firewall (WAF), Nightingale said. The WAF technology entered the Fastly portfolio with the acquisition of Signal Sciences in 2020, and the company inherited a number of channel partners through the deal.

However, depending on partner type, not all solution providers have been able to access all products within the Fastly portfolio. VARs who came to Fastly through the Signal Sciences acquisition, for instance, have only been authorized to sell the WAF product to date.

But in connection with the overhaul of Fastly’s partner program, “now they can offer the full portfolio,” Friedberg said.

That includes not only Fastly’s other security products — including distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) mitigation and bot protection — but also the company’s content delivery network (CDN) offering and other network services, such as media delivery, image optimization and load balancing.

The ability for partners to get incentivized to bring CDN to their customers is largely unheard-of, Nightingale said. Other notable players in CDN — a key technology for ensuring strong web content performance — include Akamai and Cloudflare.

The Fastly initiative to make CDN available through partners will be “the first of its kind in this space,” he said. Within the content delivery market, “there hasn’t been a major vendor that’s really partner-focused, and driving a partner focus across their go-to- market.”

In part, this is because “it’s not trivial to invest in [doing] that,” Nightingale added. “And I think that’s good for us. It means that there’s a real need in the market.”

Research firm MarketsandMarkets has pegged the CDN market at $19.2 billion in 2022, rising to $34.5 billion by 2027. Nightingale said he’s seen a strong desire among partners for being able to package CDN technology into their offerings for customers.

“Right now, there is no go-to, partner-friendly content delivery technology,” he said. “I think we have an opportunity to really change the way that market works.”

The newer Fastly offerings, such as its Compute@Edge product and observability platform, are now available to partners as well, executives told CRN.

New Consumption Models

Fastly is seeking to further unlock channel-driven sales by debuting flexible consumption models around its products, executives said.

The company has developed “all-you-can-eat” packages, with simplified pricing for partners, that are “solution-based” rather than product-based, Friedberg said.

With the product packages, “it’s not about, ‘you should buy our CDN, you should buy our WAF,’” she said. “It’s about, ‘What problems are you solving?’ And then, ‘Here’s the bundled, simple packages that are predictable for you.’”

Bringing flexible consumption models is “very different from the way Fastly has done things in the past,” as it replaces the usage-based models that formerly posed a challenge for many channel partners, Friedberg said.

“That’s not how [partners] operate,” she said. “So we came up with models that work for how partners want to sell and bill their customers.”

While pricing every piece of product functionality separately via a usage-based model does work for some of the largest customers, that’s not the case for a sizable portion of Fastly’s business, Nightingale said.

Without a doubt, he said, many partners and customers are “looking for predictable billing, and they want an outcome-based package.”

Other Program Updates

These new product packages have been “specifically designed to be channel-friendly,” Nightingale said, “and our channel program has been designed around the packages.”

The revamped program brings a three-tier, metal-based system offering benefits including training, sales enablement, marketing support and deal registration through a redesigned partner portal. Financial incentives — which vary by tier — include go-to-market funds and sales incentive rebates.

All in all, the new program has been designed to make it easier for partners to engage with Fastly and its offerings, according to Nightingale.

“We have a real opportunity here, I think, by just lowering the friction of our partner motion and putting a ton of focus on the operational excellence of it,” he said.

Formerly a Cisco executive vice president and general manager of the tech giant’s enterprise networking and cloud business, Nightingale said he arrived at Fastly already possessing “a great amount of respect for how sophisticated these partners are, and the reach that they have into the customer base.”

In terms of Fastly’s work with channel partners, “I think there’s a huge amount of untapped potential here,” he said.

Partner Perspective

Joshua Jones, a regional vice president of sales at Tevora, an Irvine, Calif.-based cybersecurity consultancy, applauded the changes that Fastly announced Monday. He expects that the moves will enable revenue growth in his firm’s Fastly business of 200 percent to 300 percent over the next 12 months.

Tevora has largely focused on Fastly’s next-generation WAF technology to date, Jones said, but the firm now plans to explore selling a broader set of Fastly technologies and tools.

The debut of flexible consumption models by Fastly is key, he noted.

“The prior model at Fastly just didn’t match some of the ways in which Tevora was selling,” Jones said. “And so now, being able to eliminate things like overages and [moving to] consumption-based, we’re going to be able to sell a lot more of the other technologies here moving forward.”

That could include offering Fastly’s CDN technology to some customers, he said.

“We’re excited to have those deeper conversations [with customers] around CDN,” Jones said. “Whereas in the past, it just didn’t fit the model and the conversations that we were having.”

Ultimately, the growing importance that organizations are placing on digital experiences means Fastly and its partners are positioned to capture a massive opportunity going forward, Nightingale said.

“Digital experiences will define the success and failure of most organizations. It can’t be something that gets done as an afterthought,” he said. “And that’s driving a need for sophisticated partners to work with those end customers and drive real digital experiences, real outcomes, that matter. At Fastly, we want to be a part of that.”