The new changes to the Netskope partner program are the latest in a series of initiatives designed to deepen training and affiliated resources, particularly around the cloud.
Security vendor Netskope has made a pair of enhancements to their partner program. They have added a new “Preferred Service Provider” tier, which is by invitation only, and which is for a small number of highly strategic partners. They have also made changes to strengthen partner benefits around renewal sales.
These new changes come as the cherry on top of a series of improvements that Netskope has been making to the program, which have been designed to provide fuller support of the full range of Netskope offerings and respond to the massive opportunities in the cloud, while dealing with its challenges.
NetSkope, which started out as a CASB [cloud access security broker], now defines themselves more broadly as a cloud security vendor.
“Netskope equals cloud security,” said Dave Rogers, Netskope’s VP Channel Sales. “We are really proud of our CASB heritage, but today we are a cloud platform which goes beyond SaaS applications. We now extend that to AWS and Azure and Google, and now to Web traffic as well.”
This broader redefinition of the company has led to a rolling evolution of the program. Rogers said that the underlying reason behind the changes is the deficit of security resources in the cloud market today, where many security jobs are unfilled.
“Every digital transformation at the end of it has a SaaS application or one built in the cloud, and that has resulted in a deficit of cloud security expertise with the mass rush to the cloud,” Rogers said. “Our program is unique in being built around where the market is going, including a training program to help address customers’ basic challenges. We have a new training program built around personas in the partner environment.”
This has led to a major evolution from what Rogers calls the original grass roots channel program to place a deep emphasis on training.
“We have made significant investments that are very unique,” he said. “We have made a huge investment in channel resources. We have more than doubled the number of team members on the channel team in North America in the last 12 months We have hired some of the most elite people in the industry. The person who created the CCIE program for Cisco is now leading our training program. In addition, we will create training programs that don’t exist today, in order to solve cloud security programs as we build applications, as opposed to building cloud apps and then coming back and try to bolt security on.”
This focus on cloud and on training doesn’t mean that partners who don’t fit those molds are second-class citizens.
“They can be Netskope partners at different levels,” Rogers said, “We want to make sure we can support partners who have a great security program but not a cloud focus. That’s why we don’t require partners to deliver services, and tiers are not dependent on services capability. I’ve never found success in trying to push a partner to be someone they don’t want to be. I also find programs tend to overlook value of regional partners, and try to fit them into standards that better fit national partners. You need a really healthy mix of national regional and global partners, so you look at every market.”
While the overall program is designed to accommodate all partners, the new “Preferred Service Provider” tier allows NetSkope to emphasis training and skill level with its top services-focused partners.
“This new tier is based on a complete revamp of the training program,” Rogers said. “It is for partners who want to invest in delivering cloud security services for their customers. Because the cloud moves so fast, and security requires such a depth of training, it’s a significant effort for partners to build cloud security expertise. So we want to make sure it’s an exclusive club. It’s by invitation only. We have four partners in North America in the tier. We have two more that will come in this summer. We just rolled this out in Australia and by early fall we will have rolled it out to EMEA.”
The new Preferred Service Providers receive several benefits.
“They can distinguish themselves in the marketplace as having access to training that others would not have, from our infrastructure investments in new training,” Rogers said. “Individuals will have special access to updates of training material on a regular basis. They will also have ‘Batphone’ access – direct access to our engineers. We think that well distinguish them as well.”
Netskope also has implemented increased incentives for driving renewal opportunities, even where Netskope drove the initial sale and transacted the business through a reseller
“We created a new registration process to protect partners who have made investments, and this has been added to renewals as well,” Rogers said. “Renewals are especially important as a SaaS company, because nine months after the sale, you are already talking about renewals.”
Rogers said that renewal protection has been extended to the newer elements of Netskope’s business too.
“We are seeing significant expansion within the Netskope platform beyond CASB to IaaS and our Secure Web gateway, and we are making sure we have protection for them in the renewal program,” he noted.