IBM Helping Partners Join Palo Alto Networks With QRadar Sale Ahead

“So once the acquisition closes, our partners will have the opportunity to join Palo Alto Networks’ partner program, if they’re not already part of that, so they will be able to then sell Palo Alto’s Cortex XSIAM,” IBM’s Channel Chief Kate Woolley tells CRN.

IBM and Palo Alto Networks are working together to make sure IBM partners can quickly become official Palo Alto Networks partners ahead of IBM’s $500 million sale of QRadar to the security company, which will enable partners to sell Palo Alto’s Cortex XSIAM offering.

“If IBM partners who are working with IBM QRadar technology are not part of Palo Alto’s partner network, we are working to ensure that Palo Alto has a very quick onboarding [process] to get them into the Palo Alto partner network,” Kate Woolley, IBM’s global channel chief told CRN.

“So once the acquisition closes, our partners will have the opportunity to join Palo Alto Networks’ partner program, if they’re not already part of that, so they will be able to then sell Palo Alto’s Cortex XSIAM,” said Woolley, general manager of IBM Ecosystem. “Then as we look at our QRadar on-prem clients and partners, we are going to be working with them to continue to support and enhance those products from an IBM perspective. But also work in partnership with Palo Alto to look at: where does it make sense to modernize those clients onto the Cortex XSIAM offering or where does it make sense for them to stay where they are?”

[Related: IBM Think: 10 Biggest AI, Red Hat, Nvidia And GenAI Launches]

Overall, Woolley said IBM will “support our clients as they move to” Palo Alto Networks.

“Our partners are going to play a key role where it makes sense for their clients to migrate clients to the Palo Alto Cortex XSIAM,” she said. “And we will continue to work with partners who are working with their clients on QRadar on-prem products.”

CRN has reached out to Palo Alto Networks for comment but did not hear back at press time.

IBM’s Sale Of QRadar Was ‘A Surprise to Many People, Even IBMers’

This month, Palo Alto Networks unveiled its plans to acquire the software-as-a-service assets associated with IBM’s QRadar business, including QRadar’s intellectual property for a price tag of $500 million.

A big motive for the deal is to open the door to migrate QRadar SaaS customers into Palo Alto’s Cortex XSIAM (extended security intelligence and automation management) platform. XSIAM is an AI-powered platform for security operations teams, which has seen rapid customer adoption since launching in late 2022.

Noreen Hansen, senior vice president and cloud services leader for IBM global partner NTT DATA Inc. Americas, said the sale of QRadar was a shock to many.

“The sale of QRadar came as a surprise to many people, even IBMers,” said Hansen, who worked at IBM before joining NTT in 2022. “However, after the time spent at IBM Think the consolidation of the portfolio with Palo Alto Networks makes quite a bit of sense for both companies.”

Hansen said the QRadar addition to Palo Alto Networks allows for a “strengthened portfolio of products focused on the complimentary suite of security services” and customer needs.

“It also allows for IBM to remain hyper-focused on the AI and hybrid cloud story,” she added.

Although NTT Data Business Solutions is already a Palo Alto Networks partner, the acquisition will enable NTT to strengthen its relationship with both vendors. “We often prefer to bring the power of three into a deal,” Hansen said.

IBM And Palo Alto Networks Are Becoming ‘Big Customers Of Each Other’

Palo Alto Networks expects to close IBM’s QRadar acquisition by the end of September 2024.

IBM’s Woolley said the acquisition is also making the two IT giants closer as customers to each other.

“More broadly with Palo Alto, we’re also becoming big customers of each other, as we think about how they’re going to leverage watsonx technology inside of their products and inside of Palo Alto, as a client of IBM,” said Woolley. “And in reverse, we are also leveraging Palo Alto technology internally.”

In fact, Woolley looks at the deal as an expanded partnership. “Palo Alto is now one of our key strategic partners,” she added.

The short-term strategy right now for IBM’s channel team is to help enable partners to become Palo Alto Networks partners as quickly as possible.

“We are working hand-in-hand with the Palo Alto ecosystem to make sure that IBM partners, if they’re not partners of Palo Alto already, we can quickly have them become part of the Palo Alto Partner Network,” Woolley said.