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CRN Exclusive: Former Ixia Channel Chief Lori Cornmesser Jumps To Network Identity Player Infoblox

Cornmesser plans to develop profiles of Infoblox's 1,000 global partners so the company can bring different messages to them based on whether they're more security-focused or cloud-focused.

Infoblox has hired Lori Cornmesser to be the company's new channel chief, where she hopes to customize messaging for different types of partners and improve Infoblox's product interoperability through alliances with other security vendors.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based network identity appliance provider already has a robust partner program, with between 90 percent and 95 percent of Infoblox's business going through the channel, Cornmesser said. Cornmesser started April 30 as Infoblox's vice president of worldwide global partners and replaces Chris Jones, who left in March to take a global sales leadership position at business intelligence software provider Qlik.

Cornmesser comes to Infoblox after more than four years leading global channel sales for network validation and visibility provider Ixia. Although Infoblox partners tend to be a little more focused on either cloud or security, Cornmesser said a fair amount of overlap exists between the two channels.

[RELATED: Ixia Global Channel Chief Lori Cornmesser To Depart Amid Sales Reorganization Effort]

"I'm seeing a lot of familiar names and faces, which is very nice," Cornmesser told CRN exclusively.

Cornmesser plans to begin developing more individual profiles of Infoblox's 1,000 global partners so the company can bring more personalized messages to them based on whether they're more focused on security or more focused on the cloud. Increased customization based on the business the partner is in should result in a more consistent and aligned message they can take to customers, Cornmesser said.

From a partner enablement standpoint, Cornmesser wants to support partners from a business standpoint and drive skills that help solution providers market and sell better. Cornmesser said that tools, money, and lead generation campaigns are all being considered, though she's still figuring out which pieces belong where.

"It's a big task, and they can't do it on their own," Cornmesser said.

She also hopes to capitalize on Infoblox's push for interoperability to help partners create a more well-rounded and interconnected security story. Historically, Cornmesser said an inability to share threat intelligence across offerings from different vendors has impeded the ability of customers to respond effectively to cyberattacks.

Infoblox is therefore partnering with security vendors like McAfee, Splunk, and Carbon Black to boost response times to potential cyber threats and get more sophisticated around threat intelligence through better sharing of information, according to Cornmesser.

Given that many solution providers are already selling McAfee, Splunk or Carbon Black, Cornmesser said that cementing partnerships with those vendors will result in Infoblox becoming a more complementary product.

Half of Infoblox's partners are based in North America, 30 percent are situated in Europe, the Middle East or Africa, 10 percent are headquartered in Asia-Pacific and Japan, and the remaining 10 percent are based in other world locations. Cornmesser spent her first week on the job attending Infoblox's EMEA Partner Executive Summit in Mallorca, Spain, and also plans to visit partners throughout the Americas and Asia.

The typical Infoblox partner has both a strong networking and security background, Cornmesser said, with both established, highly-skilled partners as well as smaller resellers generating sales activity and leads.

From a metrics standpoint, Cornmesser wants to go beyond just hitting revenue targets and focus on driving incremental revenue, deal registration, and net-new opportunities. She also wants to examine how effectively Infoblox and its partners are driving sales pipeline through lead generation and activities around enablement.

Empowered Networks has been a leading global partner for Infoblox's NetMRI network change and configuration product for the past eight years, according to Brian Hepburn, CEO of the Pickering, Ontario-based systems integrator.

Infoblox has been the only vendor to continually invest in network automation over the past several years, Hepburn said, with the company adding new features, device certifications, and new versions of the vendor's NetMRI software three times per year. Other vendors haven't put as much work into continuous development of their network automation products, according to Hepburn.

"They've been a real key partner for us," Hepburn said.

Hepburn worked closely with Cornmesser during her time at Ixia, and praised her for minimizing channel conflicts that inevitably creep up. Specifically, Hepburn said Cornmesser excels at putting the channel on the radar of C-suite executives at her own company, ensuring that not only sales, but also departments like marketing and finance understand the vital role that solution providers can play.

"She commands a seat at the table of the executive team and more thoughtful discussion on how to leverage and support the partner community," Hepburn said. "This is going to be really positive."

At Infoblox, Hepburn would like to see Cornmesser help move existing partner relationships beyond fulfillment by boosting skill levels and technical enablement and getting more mind share from partners. Although Empowered Networks has deep services capabilities around Infoblox and NetMRI, Hepburn said his company is unique among Infoblox's channel community in terms of the added value it provides.

"I'm a big fan of Lori's," Hepburn said. "She's going to be a great addition to the team."

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