Stephen Milthorpe explains how Palo Alto Networks manages its Australian partners

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This article appeared in the March 2017 issue of CRN magazine.

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Stephen Milthorpe explains how Palo Alto Networks manages its Australian partners

Stephen Milthorpe, ANZ director channels at Palo Alto Networks, discusses how partners and the channel as a whole are embracing new commercial models.

Journey

I’ve been in the industry for 20-plus years on the customer side. I was with NetApp for many years in a variety of roles in Australia and New Zealand. Then, I had the opportunity to move to Singapore and take up an Asia Pacific role – it was absolutely amazing getting to know China, India and how we do business in ASEAN.

I also had the chance to spend time with a lot of channel leaders in around a dozen countries, and after three years in Singapore, I decided to come back. Having been at NetApp for 11-and-a-half years, I asked myself, “What is next for me?” I had some discussions and made the move back to Australia and into Palo Alto Networks. I started on 7 September, just over five months ago. 

Program

We have the Nextwave program, which is a program that incentivises partners to invest with us and has the usual things like the marketing development funds to help with
go-to-market activities and so forth.

But what is probably more exciting for us moving forward is a couple of other programs. The managed security area of the business is growing incredibly fast and also the cloud security side. So we are getting a lot more of our channel wanting to do as-a-service, and even renting next-generation security for hourly, daily or monthly billing process, which is a shift away from the capex model of many years ago.

Success

I have talked with some of our largest systems integrators who asked me, “Steven, what does it take to win an award with you guys?”. 

So we put together a list of attributes, including can they do security in the public cloud, hybrid solutions, whether they are selling on-premise or off-premise, services capabilities, both consulting and support services.

So if you look at our relationship with Microsoft on the Azure side and with AWS you will see that what we are looking for more now is which partners can resell public cloud to their customers and how do we work with them to secure the cloud.

Challenges

Getting across the partner landscape, having a relatively small team and making sure they are spending the right amount of time with the right partners is really key for us. 

We’ve got geographical challenges, and a lot of partners want to spend their time with us. So for us that is a challenge but how we are trying to address that is through Arrow ECS and Westcon, our two distributors, and having them take on some load, and having them help us scale and meet our growth aspirations.

There are customers who think that security can be commoditised, and that is a long, long way from being true.  

We have got to cut through all the marketing and talk about what is important to the customers, which is protecting their data.

Future

I think I see our channel shifting with the whole industry moving towards as-a-service new commercial models and public cloud. 

The channels are building to do the traditional resell combined with public cloud solution in a variety of commercial models. Certainly, the customers are demanding where the security industry goes. 

We have seen a shift where production loads are going to the cloud, which is real data and not dummy data. That means security needs to rest in the cloud in a scalable way.  

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