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Karl Soderlund On Palo Alto Networks' Channel DNA And Why The Company's CEO, President Are Not Trying To 'Force A Google Culture'

Soderlund dishes on new rebate opportunities for top partners, how CEO Nikesh Arora's time at Google informs his position on the channel, and whether customers will be allowed to purchase certain cloud or SaaS products directly from Palo Alto Networks.

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Are there pieces of the operation around cloud and SaaS that are shifting to more of a direct sales model?

Since the inception of this company, we've been channel-centric. It's in our DNA, and that DNA is really not changing. We're always listening to our customers, we're evolving our market approach based on their needs, and we're looking to say, 'How can we accelerate our growth? How can we meet their needs? And how can we incorporate the partners at the same time?' Independent of what our go-to-market strategy is, our partners will always have an important role to play, and we are committed to them moving forward.

What are you hearing from your customers, and how are you evolving your market approach?

What we're hearing from our customers is how they buy, consumption models are changing, what they have for staffing and their needs for support are changing. The rapid change in what the security manufacturers are producing and what they need to support their infrastructure is changing. So we need to be flexible, and we need to be fast. We need to move with them, at the speed of the cloud. We can't be a laggard in this industry. We need to be supporting them, and we need to be having these conversations. One of the things we do a lot is we speak with our customers in customer advisory boards, we speak w/ partners in partner advisory councils, we have global distribution summits. We're constantly looking for feedback in what they're hearing and what they're seeing in order to build the model that will be successful.

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