Palo Alto Networks CEO: Product Consolidation On Fewer Platforms Is Inevitable

Palo Alto Networks plans to make major enhancements to its global partner program over the next year as a result of market and company changes that are transforming the cybersecurity landscape, company officials said Tuesday.

At the company’s annual Ignite conference in Las Vegas, executives at the Santa Clara, Calif.-based Palo Alto Networks told CRN that they’re now in the process of moving separate global partner programs under its already existing NextWave partners program.

In addition, Palo Alto Networks also plans to roll out new opportunities for partners to specialize in specific product and service niches as they seek to strengthen their ties to the company.

[RELATED STORY: Palo Alto Networks Appoints New Worldwide Channel Chief After Executive Reshuffle]

Lang Tibbils, senior director of worldwide partner programs at Palo Alto, said market changes, including the recent widespread migration to the cloud and the rise of SASE and ZTNA, are partly driving the changes to Palo Alto’s partner programs.

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The company’s acquisition of 14 companies in recent years and Palo Alto’s own evolution into an overall cybersecurity powerhouse is also driving partner program changes, he said.

“We need to build a partner program that allows (partners) to come along on our journey,” he said. “This is about the future.”

Don Jones, who oversees all indirect sales routes at Palo Alto Networks, said rearranging of the partner program and introducing new enhancements makes sense in today’s market.

“It brings it all together,” he said of the company’s various partner programs. “This is a natural evolution for us.”

Palo Alto Networks currently has about 10,000 partners worldwide. 

Working under Jones are about 800 people, 600 of them reporting up through the “theater ecosystems” and 200 of them part of the global team.

Karl Soderlund, who a few days ago announced he was leaving his post as senior vice president of worldwide channel sales to become the head North America ecosystem sales at Palo Alto Networks, told CRN that the new changes will create a more “holistic” partners program around the globe.

“There’s now more opportunities for partners to align with us than ever before,” said Soderlund, adding he’ll now effectively be the “new channel chief for North America.”

Tom Evans, previously the company’s vice president of worldwide channel sales strategy, has been tapped to replace Soderlund as the firm’s new senior vice president of worldwide channel sales.

Jones said both Soderlund and Evans will be reporting directly to him.

As example of new enhancements, Tibbils told CRN that Palo Alto currently has three product specializations in Prisma Cloud, SASE and Cortex XDR.

But he said the company now plans to add to specializations in NextGen hardware for firewall, NextGen software for firewall, and Cortex XSOAR

Such changes will allow partners to differentiate themselves in the market and potentially land new business as a result.

Ultimately, the changes unveiled over the next year will affect partners such as managed security providers, distributors and cloud-service providers.

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