Security Companies Look To Pivot Portfolios, Compensation Plans For New Cloud-First World

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Customers are moving to the cloud, and top security channel chiefs said they are looking to reposition their businesses and compensation plans to help partners meet that demand.  

The demand for cloud security solutions is clear, as is the massive opportunity it presents for partners, Fortinet Vice President of Americas Channels and Emerging Technologies Joe Sykora said in a roundtable discussion of top security channel chiefs hosted by CRN at XChange 2017 in Orlando, Fla.

"There's the opportunity for them, for any solution provider out there. … There's a lot of confusion. In confusion, there's opportunity," Sykora said. "Any partner who cracks that is going to be well-positioned."

Ken McCray, McAfee head of channels and operations for the Americas, agreed, saying the size of the opportunity around security and the cloud is one that doesn’t come by every day.

"How many times in your career do we have opportunities like this? When you look at what's happening in security, the opportunity for managed services and the hybrid cloud [is huge]. If you miss this window, then you deserve what you get," McCray said.

[The State Of Security: CRN's 2017 Security Roundtable]

Todd Weber, vice president of partner strategy and research at solution provider Optiv Security, said he also sees customers looking to adapt their businesses to the cloud. He said Optiv sees most customers starting with the public cloud, then working backward to secure their private and on-premise solutions.

Weber said the cloud also means partners need to adapt their selling strategies, as customers change their consumption model with the cloud. He said the consumption model of many security vendors is changing from a Capex license model to an Opex model. He said customers are also looking for security technologies that work across public, private and on-premise environments.

"We do see clients trying to consolidate as much as possible," Weber said. He said companies like Optiv have to adapt to this new model demanded by customers.

Kendra Krause, vice president of global channels at Sophos, said the role of the vendors in that shift is to make sure they offer solutions that are channel-friendly and that partners can make money on. That requires big changes from security vendors, she said. 

"We need to make sure [the cloud] is part of the partner program and that's been a big change this past year," Krause said. She said Sophos is readying the launch of a new partner program, adding to its current commission model with Amazon Web Services. She said Sophos will also soon expand to add a Microsoft Azure commission model. "It's been one of the biggest requests from our partners in this market," she said.

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