Palo Alto Networks Makes Big Managed Services, Cloud Push With New VP And Programs

Palo Alto Networks is investing big in building out its cloud security and managed security services offerings for partners, rolling out new programs around the areas and hiring a new vice president to lead the charge.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based vendor did an informal rollout of two new programs at its Sales Kickoff event in Nashville, Tenn., this week, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Channels Ron Myers told CRN. The company has also hired Nigel Williams as vice president of MSSP channels to lead that charge. Williams comes to Palo Alto Networks from Ciena, where he was vice president of global channels and strategic alliances.

Myers said the managed services program will be tailored to those traditional VAR partners who have made advancements around managed services and plan to invest in the training and services capabilities they will need to succeed going forward.

[Related: CRN Exclusive: Palo Alto Networks CEO On Security Platform Evolution And When Partners Can Expect Traps To Take Off]

Sponsored post

Myers said the push is part of an evolution and maturation of the Palo Alto Networks partner base to what he called a ’next-generation security innovator.’ The market is moving toward a cloud and hybrid model, he said, and Palo Alto Networks wants to incent its partners to ’pivot and be attracted to new routes to market.’

’We want [partners] to deliver services and we’re messaging to our partners that if you’re prepared to make the investment, we will lean into you. That you are driving these opportunities,’ Myers said. ’When you think about the adjacency to product, subscriptions and the platform and the margin opportunity and stickiness they can provide by providing services, it is very important.’

Palo Alto Networks CEO Mark McLaughlin said the ability to deliver services and security-as-a-service solutions will be key for partners looking to stay ahead of a shifting security landscape. Those services add new recurring revenue opportunities, higher margins and the opportunity to act as a trusted adviser to customers.

’If you just look to sell a deal versus providing higher value to your customers, you’re missing a huge opportunity. We want to help [partners] capture that,’ McLaughlin said.

Partners said the move by Palo Alto Networks to put more emphasis on cloud and managed services allows them to offer more value to their clients.

’Anything that raises the bar higher or anything that creates a greater value proposition for clients, that’s what I want,’ David Lesser, president and CEO of Chicago-based Nexum, said.

Michael McGhee, managing director of Glen Allen, Va.-based Slait Consulting, said his business hasn’t done much managed services business with Palo Alto Networks in the past, but he will be looking into developing it after the Sales Kickoff event.

’We want to be touching our client as many time as I can. It just gives you a competitive advantage,’ McGhee said.

That push adds to the changes Palo Alto Networks made to its NextWave partner program earlier this year, which were designed to raise profitability for partners and reward partners who have deepened their relationship with the vendor. It also included the launch of a limited-recruitment Traps endpoint security specialization.

’We are defining the market and our competition to a certain degree is declining in the market, by virtue of us taking market share. The next-generation security innovator will understand how to sell to all elements of our platform, will be expert at service delivery, take advantage of our ecosystem and bundle offers around it. … The best partners will be able to take advantage of it and lead with professional services and become healthier because of that,’ Myers said.

That shift has been made possible by investments by Palo Alto Networks in hiring channel business managers, new vice presidents, and partner enablement, Myers said. He said that channel-first approach, plus the company’s message around next-generation technology, will help it grow its sales and gain competitive wins. He said Palo Alto Network has to ’earn the right’ to work with its partners, so it is working to do just that.

’We’re a new company. We’ve gained the respect of our partners, more of their mind-share every single quarter, and we’re showing that in the markets from customer acquisition,’ Myers said.