IT companies for years have been urged to use what they sell — how can tech purveyors expect customers to take the leap of faith when the sellers have yet to make the same commitment? The same kind of thinking holds true in the cloud computing era, and one example of the internal use philosophy is ServiceNow, an enterprise software as a service and platform as a service provider.
ServiceNow, based in Santa Clara, Calif., launched in 2003 in the IT service management (ITSM) space, but has since become a more generalized cloud platform for automating workflow in a range of corporate departments. ServiceNow deployments, moving beyond the IT organization, span corporate departments including human resources, legal, field services, marketing and facilities.
That expansion is mirrored in ServiceNow’s own experience. Continued »
Data management vendor Informatica has signed a North American distributor agreement with Avnet Technology Solutions, a move the vendor said advances its revised channel strategy.
Under the agreement, Avnet Technology Solutions will provide North American partners with access to Informatica’s portfolio of data integration, cloud, master data management, big data and security technologies. The partnership builds on Informatica and Avnet’s existing relationships in Indonesia, Italy, Malaysia, Singapore and the U.K. Informatica, which also partners with Tech Data and Ingram Micro, in January authorized Arrow Electronics to distribute its portfolio, as well.
Informatica currently derives about 5% of its total revenues from the channel, said Rodney Foreman, senior vice president of worldwide partner ecosystem. Foreman said Informatica aims to increase that number to 40% over the next five years.
“We’re well on track to make that happen,” he said.
Foreman came to the vendor about five months ago after having led IBM’s global cloud channel business. “I joined Informatica with the mission to grow our channel business worldwide by establishing a new channel program and building our partner capacities,” he said.
Under Foreman, Informatica has established a two-tier structure and will officially launch an updated Informatica partner program on Feb. 6. The program introduces a 15% frontend margin for partners and 10% backend rebates for bringing in new customers and selling cloud-centric products. Infromatica will also offer incremental rewards for selling into the midmarket.
He said one of the biggest opportunities for the Informatica partner channel is around its recently released data security product, Secure@Source. The data security market is a new area for the vendor.
“We want partners in the security space to help us grow our revenue and market share because it’s an area that we have not been before,” he said.
Infromatica partners with global system integrators, value-added resellers, managed services providers, cloud service providers and ISVs.
Startups increasingly tap channel partners for help with product sales and marketing. It’s a logical combination: The early-stage company gets access to the partner’s established customer base and the partner gets access to emerging technology and a potential point of differentiation.
This approach also lends itself to young software as a service (SaaS) companies as they branch out into international markets. OneLogin Inc., a San Francisco company that offers a cloud-based single sign-on and cloud identity and access management platform, provides a case in point. The company, founded in 2010, is partnering to establish its presence outside of the U.S. OneLogin, for example, works with T-Systems in Germany and NEC Solution Innovators in Japan.
T-Systems is an information and communication technology (ICT) service provider and subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom, while NEC Solution Innovators, also an ICT company, is part of NEC Group.
“The reasons we decided to go to the market this way are really around scale,” said Marcus Mueller, managing director, EMEA, at OneLogin.
Citing the example of T-Systems, Mueller said OneLogin can tap into the company’s numerous sales people in Germany and thousands of consultants and technicians. He said T-Systems has around 3,000 sales people and 45,000 employees, overall, many of whom are technical staff.
OneLogin believes partnering provides an edge over the direct model of establishing and staffing oversees offices.
“How much easier it is to enable these local partners who have relationships with existing customers and very large field [sales] teams,” Mueller said.
The alliance-building method, however, takes a bit of effort to get off the ground. Mueller said the task involves locating channel partners in each geographic area that understand the company’s market space and are either investing in or already have a cybersecurity practice. Once partners are identified, OneLogin then builds a “partnering stack” for each geographic area, consisting of tiers of large national or international partners (such as T-Systems and NEC), mid-sized regional partners that might cover parts of a country, and smaller boutique value-added resellers and consultancies with significant local influence.
“It takes a little bit longer in the short run to get these [partnering efforts] going, but, in the longer run, the accelerated scale from this model more than pays off for us,” Mueller explained.
Partnering does more than offer an established customer base and feet on the international street for product-selling purposes. Overseas channel partners provide the added benefit of local implementation resources and technical personnel for post-sales support.
International alliances with brand-name companies also provide customers with the assurance of stability. If something unexpected happened to OneLogin, T-Systems, for instance, would have the legal and fiduciary responsibility to replace OneLogin with a substitute technology that would deliver on the same service-level agreement, Mueller noted.
In addition, alliances help SaaS startups comply with international regulations. OneLogin said its offering in Germany is hosted on Deutsche Telekom’s Open Telekom Cloud public cloud infrastructure, an arrangement that lets it “fully address German data privacy and compliance requirements.”
When a German enterprise signs up to use OneLogin, the technology will be delivered locally in a German data center operated by T-Systems personnel. Such localization is becoming more important in light of European data privacy law.
OneLogin has been working with T-Systems for about four months and is now set to do business in Germany. OneLogin signed a contract with T-Systems in September 2016, began running on the company’s cloud in October and passed its security audit in December, Mueller said.
“Everything is place, and we are ready to sell to customers,” he said
A SaaS startup’s international partnering strategy reinforces the benefits, in general, for early-stage companies that are quick to the channel: The ability to scale using a partner’s sales and marketing muscle, the credibility of an established name and the availability of localized post-sales support personnel.
SearchITChannel’s 2017 technology outlook article identified a number of cybersecurity trends affecting channel companies.
Among those developments are an anticipated rise in security operations center automation, the adoption of machine learning as a security technology and greater customer interest in integrated security suites.
SecurityScorecard, a cloud-based security rating platform provider, this week launched its first channel program.
The new program aims to help value-added resellers (VARs) offer continuous security rating services in what the company believes is an emerging market. Using the company’s platform, VARs can assess and monitor their customers’ security postures, assigning grades to the organizations based on their risks and vulnerabilities. Importantly, the platform assesses the security risks of customers’ third-party vendors.
“[The platform’s] primary use case, from a sales and value-added reseller perspective, is focused on enabling companies … to have visibility into the security posture of their third-party vendors, consultants and suppliers,” said Michael Rogers, vice president of strategic alliances and channels at SecurityScorecard, headquartered in New York.
Rogers added that VARs can potentially use SecurityScorecard ratings to identify opportunities for bolstering customers’ security capabilities. This, as a result, opens the door to providing professional services and cross-selling security-related products.
SecurityScorecard’s channel program offers access to deal registration, qualified sales leads, sales and technical training, co-marketing funds, and joint business planning. Additionally, partners can also connect with white hat hackers for guidance on designing product sets, the company said.
The program right now is by invitation only, Rogers said. “My feeling has always been, ‘Let’s go with the right ecosystem with the right partners.” Current partners include Gotham Technology Group, Optiv Security, GuidePoint Security, Bayside Solutions and Sycomp.
Gotham Technology’s use cases
First, the platform helps Gotham’s highly regulated customers audit their subcontractors, he said. These customers typically send their subcontractors multipage questionnaires and spreadsheets, allowing subcontractors to perform a self-evaluation of their security capabilities. “They’re spending a lot of time and energy trying to evaluate the efficacy of the security programs within the subcontractors,” Phelan said. “I think [the SecurityScorecard platform] is a great way of approaching that.”
Phelan said he also sees the SecurityScorecard platform helping customers who need to communicate their security postures to board members. The platform’s ability to continuously monitor an organization’s security health can offer critical insight. “Having a running metric of what we look like on a day-to-day basis is a really valuable thing for customers to … [understand] where they [stand] from a security perspective and how it changes every day.”
While Phelan sees Gotham’s partnership with SecurityScorecard as a promising opportunity for 2017, he said he hopes the vendor will develop more of a managed services play around its offerings.
Citrix Summit 2017 kicks off today in Anaheim, Calif. Here’s what channel partners can expect the company to emphasize at this year’s meeting:
Craig Stilwell, vice president, worldwide partner strategy and sales at Citrix, said 2017 will be the year when the company “walks in the cloud.” The company, he said, began to crawl in the cloud in 2016 and looks forward to running full force in the cloud in 2018.
This year, Citrix will focus on talking to partners about how to make the cloud transition, providing technical enablement as well as coaching on positioning and sales motions around the cloud, Stilwell said. And, of course, there will be discussions on how to make money in the cloud. Indeed, the Citrix Summit 2017 opening keynote outlined three ways for partners to make money in the cloud: transactions for new cloud licenses, services (installation, configuration and managed services) and renewals (partners sell Citrix Cloud packages in a per-user, per-year subscription model).
As for the latter, Stilwell said he plans to design a renewal program for partners. He noted that once a customer makes a cloud purchase, the channel will play a key role in making sure usage is high and customers are satisfied. He said his goal it to have the renewal program figured out by the Citrix Synergy conference, which will take place in May in Orlando.
Other partner go-to-market priorities outlined at Citrix Summit 2017 include:
Secure deals for Citrix Workspace Suite
Stilwell said the objective is for Citrix sales personnel and channel partners to lead with Citrix Workspace Suite, a set of Citrix products for delivering secure access to desktops, data, applications and services.
Win with networking
Specifically, the Citrix game plan is to attach NetScaler and SD-WAN technology to every Workspace Suite, XenApp and XenDesktop deal. He said SD-WAN sales benefit from a close association with desktop virtualization and application virtualization user experience.
“We find the most uptake on SD-WAN … where resilience and uptime are of primary importance to the end user customer,” Stilwell said.
Win together with Microsoft
Stilwell said Citrix is asking its channel companies to become better Microsoft partners and focus on key use cases such as Skype for Business, Windows 10 virtual desktop infrastructure and NetScaler for Azure.
Citrix Summit 2017 will run through Wednesday, Jan. 11.
As channel partners mull over business moves for the upcoming year, many executives may consider IoT as a potential play — and for good reason.
“There is so much demand for IoT within SMBs [small and midsized businesses],” said Anurag Agrawal, CEO and analyst at Techaisle, a market research firm that closely follows the SMB market. Techaisle expects nearly three-fourths of midmarket businesses to adopt some form of an IoT initiative in the next year. At least one third of small businesses, which Techaisle defines as having one to 100 employees, will launch one or more IoT initiatives within their organizations.
“There are many different benefits of IoT that the SMBs are starting to see, and they’re starting to embrace it,” he said.
That’s not necessarily the channel’s fault. For example, many firms continue to grapple with cloud computing, mobility and security, making IoT an impractical next step. Additionally, traditional vendors experimenting with IoT products opt to sell direct to customers. “[Vendors] are all experimenting, and the best experiment is to sell it themselves,” he said. “That, in turn, drives channel partners to say, ‘How do I learn by myself?’ They don’t have enough time to be able to do it.”
First steps to the IoT opportunity
The first step involves what partners “already know how to do today” — selling and installing hardware. Selling and installing sensors and data-collecting devices is a practical way to get started.
From there, partners can move up to managed services, proactively managing and monitoring their customers’ sensors and devices. “I think this could be a potential sweet spot for MSPs that start investing in that area today,” April said.
Partners can then harness and analyze the data collected from customers’ devices and advise customers on running their businesses. “That is really the cream of the crop right there,” she said, but added that the channel is “a ways off from this.” Only a segment of the channel will acquire this type of expertise, she said.
Charles Weaver, CEO of MSPAlliance, suggested MSPs may play a more vital role in IoT when security issues begin to emerge. “I think that IoT is going to be a major … problem-solver and then it’s going to be a major problem — in that order,” he said. He said we will likely see massive adoption, followed by breaches and attacks that will bring greater attention to IoT security.
But Weaver also noted that MSPs should start to explore the IoT opportunity. RMM tools in the market today can handle the task of monitoring IoT devices, he said. “If it’s connected to the internet, generally speaking, I think it can be monitored. If I was an MSP, I would be definitely looking at that for the future.”
Microsoft said it has some 20,000 partners selling cloud through the company’s Cloud Solution Provider program.
Now, Microsoft wants to get more partner personnel up to speed on cloud technology. In a briefing this week, Gavriella Schuster, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Group, unveiled free Azure training. Schuster, citing a shortage of technology professionals with the skills to capitalize on the cloud opportunity, said six Azure training modules are available at no cost today and six more will be added in the next few weeks. Continued »
Aruba Networks, a networking vendor and Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, unveiled an expanded portfolio aimed at supporting IoT initiatives at the HPE Discover Conference in London today.
The new products, which include Aruba ClearPass Universal Profiler and the “IoT-ready” 2540 Switch Series, will play into HPE’s overall IoT strategy, Aruba said, while opening up partner opportunities in the IoT market.
The Universal Profiler, also a feature of Aruba’s ClearPass platform, automatically discovers and “fingerprints” IP-enabled managed, unmanaged and IoT devices on multi-vendor wired and wireless networks, according to the vendor.
Partners can use the tool to provide visibility into the number of devices connected to their customers’ networks, as well as the types of devices, operating systems, statuses and locations. The information can then help fine-tune performance and security across infrastructure components, Aruba said. Additionally, the information can be shared with ClearPass Exchange partners, which provide security and operations features such as user behavior analytics, deception intelligence and firewall security that integrate with Aruba’s ClearPass Policy Manager.
Christian Gilby, director of product marketing at Aruba, said the Universal Profiler “simplifies and lowers the barrier for our partners to get this [information] into customers’ hands and understand what’s on their networks.” He noted the tool is also a vehicle for up-selling customers to ClearPass Policy Manager.
Small organizations are a good candidate for the Profiler, as larger organizations will generally adopt ClearPass Policy Manager, added Trent Fiero, Aruba’s director of security marketing.
According to Optiv, a security solution provider based in Denver, Aruba’s decision to offer the Universal Profiler as a standalone product, separate from the from the ClearPass platform, was a smart move. “I think it will allow [Aruba to] get into customers a little bit easier and allow people to grow organically and naturally over time” because they can pay only for what they need, said Charlie Koehler, Optiv’s Aruba enterprise architect. He added he thinks the separation will allow Aruba to put the Profiler in the cloud, making it even more accessible to customers.
Koehler said that Optiv recently used ClearPass to do device segmentation and profiling within healthcare telemetry environments. Apart from healthcare, he added education and retail are poised to be strong vertical opportunities for Aruba IoT technology.
The Universal Profiler will be available in the first quarter of calendar year 2017, with pricing starting at $150 for profiling up to 100 devices, Aruba said.
In addition to the Profiler, Aruba launched its “IoT-ready” 2540 Switch Series, which “fills out” the Aruba’s switch portfolio, Gilby said, allowing the HPE Aruba partner community “to build a solution across large campuses as well as distributed enterprises.” The switches offer user- and port-based wired traffic tunneling to an Aruba Mobility Controller so an organization can apply policies, extend advanced services and encrypt traffic to secure the LAN.
The 2540 Switch Series is available now with pricing beginning at $2,589.
The vendor today also rolled out enhancements to ArubaOS-Switch, which works together with the 2540 switches to support unified role-based access across wireless and wired networks with capabilities for identifying and assigning roles to connected IoT devices.
To get an idea of where channel trends may be heading next year, take a look at where distributors are investing and hiring today.
Ingram Micro Inc., for example, is putting time and money into training programs. The company this week obtained Authorized Learning Partner status from Cisco. That designation means Ingram Micro can deliver Cisco Authorized Training as part of the networking vendor’s Global Learning Partner Organization.
According to Cisco, Learning Partners are authorized to educate and train other partners within the company’s partner ecosystem, focusing on “Cisco products, technologies, architectures and solutions.”
Ingram Micro‘s training investment is part of a broader trend. Distributors are diversifying, cultivating a range of services in addition to their traditional role in product fulfillment. According to the Global Technology Distribution Council, distributors, as a group, now offer more than three dozen service lines — including education and training. Continued »