Palo Alto Networks Hires Channel Veteran To Lead Americas Channel, Revamp Partner Program

Palo Alto Networks has hired channel veteran Karl Soderlund to run its Americas channels organization, saying he will play a key role in evolving the vendor's NextWave Channel Partner Program.

"I look forward to playing my part at the helm of the Americas channel team and helping accelerate Palo Alto Networks' momentum in the market with its ecosystem of next-generation security innovator partners," said Soderlund in a LinkedIn post. "[Palo Alto Networks] is a company I have long admired and I am thrilled that I will have the opportunity to help advance their mission of maintaining trust in the digital age by preventing successful cyberattacks."

Palo Alto Networks confirmed Soderlund's hiring.

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"Karl brings a wealth of channel leadership experience to our team, adding to our tremendous bench strength of our current channel organization," said John Spiliotis, senior vice president of Santa Clara, Calif.-based Palo Alto Networks, in a statement to CRN. "At the helm of the Americas channel team, he will play a key role in the evolution of our NextWave channel program by accelerating our momentum and up-leveling our operational scale in the market with our ecosystem of next-generation security innovator partners."

Jamie Shepard, senior vice president for health care and strategy at Lumenate, a Dallas-based solution provider and Palo Alto Networks partner, said Soderlund will shake up the vendor's channel strategy to focus more on specific partners, which will increase profitability for Lumenate.

"Their biggest strategy change right now in the channel is to go into bigger accounts and go deeper into them and get more market share," said Shepard. "Karl coming in is going to put a lot more focus on certain channel partners. They [could] change the channel program and have a different tier channel partne, because they definitely need more focus on the right channel partners to bring them into bigger accounts and to go deeper – that's their only issue right now."

Soderlund declined to comment to CRN as he officially does not start his new position as vice president of Americas channels until May 15.

He is replacing Todd Palmer, who recently joined hyper-converged startup Cohesity. Palmer was key in revamping Palo Alto Networks' partner program in 2016.

Soderlund recently held the position of group vice president of worldwide channels and alliances for unified communications specialist 8x8. Prior to that, he was the global channel chief for cybersecurity vendor Imperva for approximately 18 months.

Soderlund has an extensive channel history, holding positions such as vice president of worldwide channels and alliances at Aruba Networks, as well as vice president, Americas channel sales for Avaya.

"I love that Palo Alto Networks believes that a key measure of success will be when we stop reading about the latest breach in daily headlines and that successful large-scale cyberattacks become the exception, not the norm in our daily lives. That’s the promise the company represents," said Soderlund in his LinkedIn post. "Channel partners have clearly played a pivotal role in helping deliver that promise around the world and making Palo Alto Networks one of the fastest-growing companies in the history of the IT industry."

Lumenate's Shepard said Palo Alto Networks is making the technology moves that customers are demanding, including a major update to its PAN-OS.

"Product-wise, their new OS and everything that's coming out is phenomenal," said Shepard. "Palo Alto [Networks] is gaining a lot of attention. They just need to be in bigger accounts and to go deeper, and I think they're going to do that through the channel and Karl will help that."