CRN Exclusive: Palo Alto Networks Expands NextWave Partner Program With New Public Cloud Specialization

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When it comes to the public cloud, Palo Alto Networks said it is doubling down with partners.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based security vendor has launched the pilot for a new Public Cloud Specialization, as part of its NextWave Partner Program.

Ron Myers, senior vice president of worldwide channels, said the specialization serves three tiers of partners: traditional channel relationships around bring-your-own-license; born in the cloud partners looking to resell security or go to market with a services delivery model around the cloud; and an integrated deal registration system through the AWS Marketplace. Palo Alto Networks also works with Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud.

[Related: Palo Alto Networks CEO: We Are Now Bigger Than Check Point, Fast Approaching Size Of Cisco's Security Business]

"Serving customers who elect to migrate into the public cloud is nothing new within Palo Alto Networks … What we needed to do was take a step back and devise a program and enablement opportunities that would help partners become extremely confident and competent in delivering and serving to the cloud," Myers said of the new specialization.

The public cloud specialization pilot is the second specialization for partners from Palo Alto Networks, adding to a NextWave Traps Specialization the company launched around endpoint security in April 2016. The company has since seen "phenomenal" growth in the number of partners specializing around Traps.

The specialization is designed to help partners address the accelerating market for public cloud, as well as alleviate some of their concerns about the new model and what it means for margins, said Dean Darwin, Palo Alto's senior vice president of sales and channel strategy. Darwin said enterprise customers are moving to the cloud at faster rates, but having a partner to understand the shared security model is vital if they want to make a move securely. However, he said many partners don't know where to start when it comes to addressing that opportunity.

"For the channel, what is really important is that the opportunity is fast. It is a massive inflection point that we're at right now. It's not a headwind. It's not a threat. If you embrace it, I think it has a tremendous opportunity as a tailwind," Darwin said. "There is a dramatic need for enterprise-class security."

Jeff Aden, co-founder and executive vice president of strategic business development and marketing at 2nd Watch, a Seattle-based AWS partner, said his company announced a partnership with Palo Alto Networks to join the specialization about a month ago. He said he views the partnership as "very synergistic and complementary," bringing together 2nd Watch's expertise around AWS and Palo Alto Networks' expertise around security.

Aden said the launch of the specialization pilot is a sign that Palo Alto Networks is all-in on the public cloud. He said he sees the launch as a sign the company is looking to bring its "tested and trusted" reputation with the enterprise into the public cloud market.

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