Palo Alto Networks Snags Systems Integrator Guru Don Jones To Expand Channel: Exclusive

Jones will expand the focus of Palo Alto Networks’ NextWave partner program beyond VARs and MSPs by putting tools and programs in place to support systems integrators, service providers and MSSPs.


Palo Alto Networks has hired Don Jones to extend the company’s NextWave program to a new generation of partnerships in the systems integrator and service provider spaces.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based platform security vendor tapped Jones to expand the focus of the NextWave partner program beyond VARs and MSPs and put a common set of tools and programs in place to support systems integrators, service providers and MSSPs. Jones started Monday as Palo Alto Networks’ senior vice president of ecosystems, and will have global channel chief Karl Soderlund reporting directly into him.

“I’m thrilled to be here, building on the success of NextWave and extending that to the other components that have been siloed,” Jones told CRN exclusively.

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Jones has deep experience in the systems integrator space, having most recently spent nearly three years at Noida, India-based SI HCL Technologies managing its relationship with Microsoft. He also spent seven years at Paris-based SI Capgemini overseeing its global relationship with Microsoft, and was instrumental in the creation of Avanade, a Microsoft-Accenture joint venture established in 2000, while he worked at Microsoft.

Since Jones has never worked in security before, he will meet with a sales engineer every Friday to walk through the Palo Alto Networks product road map and how it fits into the broader ecosystem. He attended Palo Alto Networks’ quarterly business reviews during the week of Feb. 17 and the RSA Conference during the week of Feb. 24 to familiarize himself with partners and customers.

Jones will oversee all of Palo Alto Networks’ channel, systems integrator, service provider, product partnership and associated service delivery efforts, the company said.

Leaders for each of Palo Alto Networks’ go-to-market motions will report into Jones including Soderlund, who will retain direct responsibility for the company’s VAR, MSP, MSSP and distribution relationships. Soderlund had been reporting into Palo Alto Networks President Amit Singh on an interim basis following a restructuring in 2019.

“In the past, it was somewhat siloed,” Soderlund told CRN. “But there’s a tremendous amount of overlap between all of these different go-to-market engines, so having a unified approach with a unified leader makes perfect common sense.”

Palo Alto Networks has accelerated its push into the systems integrator market, expanding its partnership last week with NTT Ltd. to offer a portfolio of products that will reduce the time needed to predict, detect and respond to attacks. The company also spent six to nine months in talks with Accenture to build out a partnership with a joint set of offerings and enablement opportunities as well as an aligned product road map.

Deepening ties with systems integrators and service providers will make it easier for Palo Alto Networks to serve global customers with operations that span multiple geographies, Singh said. As digital transformation efforts become increasingly central to systems integrators' consulting and advisory services, Singh said they are looking to more tightly embed security into the process to better protect customers on their journey to the cloud.

As Palo Alto Networks has boosted its capabilities in the cloud security and analytics spaces, Singh said an expanded set of partnerships will provide customers with a richer set of services offerings.

Beyond Accenture and NTT Ltd., Jones said Palo Alto Network is trying to figure out how to embrace other systems integrators and where they come to play with the company. Specifically, Jones said Palo Alto Networks would need to determine what a joint solution looks like with the systems integrator as well as how that solution can be matured as demand for it grows.

In addition to the big global partners, Singh expects Jones will help Palo Alto Networks grow its relationship with boutique partners with expertise in a particular geography, vertical or set of technical capabilities. The company could develop more a vertical-specific offering for a particular go-to-market motion or a training regimen around Security Operations Center product capabilities, Singh said.

“Come talk to us,” Singh said. “Look at your business plans and see what customers are focused on and how you can grow your business with us.”