Splunk makes both strategic and tactical enhancements to partner strategy

All partners will see enhancements to the deal registration and CPQ systems, while Technology Alliance Partners get more perks and a clearer progression path.

Aziz Benmalek, vice president of worldwide partners, Splunk

LAS VEGAS – Splunk’s big user event, .conf19, which is being held here, is not the company’s major partner event. That would be their Global Partner Summit, which this year was held in February, also in Las Vegas. However, .conf 19 saw Splunk make some fine tuning of their overall partner strategy, as well as some programmatic changes, which include deal registration and CPQ improvements and overall enhancements to the Technology Alliance Program for strategic vendor partners.

Splunk appointed a new global channel chief, Aziz Benmalek, just before the Global Partner Summit. He indicated that he is putting his own stamp drawn from 22 years at Microsoft on the Splunk program going forward.

“Fundamentally, the strategy we are driving as we move forward reflects my past perspectives,” Benmalek said. “We will continue to strengthen the resell and co-sell components of our partner ecosystem, and expand it at the international level.”

A major theme at .conf19 this year has been the expansion of the Splunk ecosystem through building more third-party IP and use cases on top of the platform, and Splunk partners are critical to this.

“We are focusing on building strategy and capability around services and solutions in the market, to enable partners to build on the Splunk platform,” Benmalek indicated. “This will include enabling them with newer products like our Phantom SOAR, and Mission Control [which unifies Phantom with Splunk’s SIEM and UBA solutions], which we are announcing here. We are also working with both global and regional SIs to build more expertise and capacity.”

Benmalek indicated that another key priority is continuing to broaden the portfolio of solutions as well as Splunk’s data footprint by driving strategic partnerships.

“At our Data to Everything event a month ago, we announced Accenture, SAP, Cisco and Deloitte partnerships, and many horizontal solutions in this ecosystem are being showcased in the partner pavilion here,” he said. “This includes  Deloitte cybersecurity solutions around Phantom. You will also see more to come from SAP around the intelligent enterprise and data-driven solutions.”

Further development of the cloud ecosystem is a top priority.

“This includes our work with AWS, and we will continue to build out a new ecosystem of partners around cloud, particularly with new SaaS partners in the DevOps space around our recent SignalFx and Omnition acquisitions specifically,” Benmalek added. “Broadening the use cases and the ecosystem here is critical to deliver the value to our joint customers as we move more into cloud and SaaS. New skillsets and added value will be critical, with IP on top of the platform, With  SignalFX as an example, as we build out work in DevOps with it and VictorOps,  managed services and ‘born in the cloud’ MSPs will be important.”

.conf19 was actually the largest single gathering of Splunk partners ever, with over 2200 partner attendees.

Brooke Cunningham, Area VP of global partner programs and operations, Splunk

“We announced active partner numbers around this event, and have 1900 active partner companies globally,” said Brooke Cunningham, Area VP, Global Partner Marketing, Programs & Operations at Splunk. “Two .confs ago it was 950 partners.” Almost all of this growth has been organic. Both Phantom and SignalFx brought only a very small number of partners.

.conf19 also saw the highest number of partner sponsors to date, at 76. Accenture and ReliaQuest are Zetta sponsors, the highest category. AWS, Carahsoft, Cisco, Dell Technologies, Deloitte, Herjavec Group, Nutanix and Pure Storage are Peta sponsors.

“We continue to be very mindful and strategic about adding partners, with an emphasis on their bringing protocol expertise or customer relationships or MSP capabilities,” Cunningham said.

A significant new change in the Splunk Partner+ Program structure impacts the Technology Alliance Partners.

“The feedback from these partners was that there wasn’t a good path for them to keep progressing up the tiers,” Cunningham said. As a result, like other partners they now have a clear progression path to earn their way from the entry-level Enrolled tier up to the highest tier, Elite.

“Many of these partners made major investments in .conf, so we wanted to give them more ‘gimmes’ as they move up the tiers,” Cunningham said. “We added things like marketing support and NFR in the TAP program as a result.”

Splunk has also made enhancements to the Splunk Partner Portal, to improve both the deal registration and the CPQ [Configure-Price-Quote] process.

“This is for all our partners, and the idea is to improve the partner experience and make it easier to do business with us,” Cunningham said. “With deal reg, we have made it easier and faster. With CPQ we have increased the amount of automation. Before, it wasn’t set up properly to automate things, and a lot of manual stuff and a lot of people were required. Now, it lets our distis do a lot more to support partners, It improves our efficiencies internally as well, because we have to do less paper pushing. Not everything is automated. There are still things where we have to touch other peoples’ systems, like AWS, where we have to follow other people’s workflows, and do some things manually.”

The show floor also featured the RV from the Big Data Beard team, A collaboration of Dell, VMware, Carahsoft, Arrow and Red River Technology, they drove an RV with IoT sensors in an edge-to-cloud computing environment using the Splunk platform on a 3,700 mile road trip to the event, and showed off their findings there.

“While this was not a partner event like the Global Partner Summit, we did provide a program for partners, which was a curated experience, and a partner lounge, which was typically full,” Cunningham noted.

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