Kubernetes networking provider Tigera launches channel program to support developing channel

Tigera has been selling commercial products using the Calico Open Source it developed for about two years, but within the last six months, increased channel interest has led them to develop that channel, now supported by a partner program.

Amit Gupta, vice president of business development and product management at Tigera

Kubernetes security and observability provider Tigera has established their first worldwide partner program to meet rising caused by the growing adoption of containers, Kubernetes, and microservices. They are looking to add at least a couple dozen more partners with focused Kubernetes skills.

“Tigera was founded six years ago, specifically in the Kubernetes networking space, to provide specific networking security and observability capabilities,” said Amit Gupta, vice president of business development and product management at Tigera.

Tigera’s technology is based on the Calico Open Source that it designed and maintains. Its commercial products include Calico Enterprise, a self-managed security and observability platform, and Calico Cloud, a next-generation, Kubernetes-native cloud service.

“Calico Open Source is the default standard for Kubernetes networking, and runs in 166 countries powering more than a million nodes,” Gupta said. “That’s why every single cloud and Kubernetes provider bakes us in.”

Their customers cover pretty much the whole spectrum from a size perspective.

“We have SaaS companies with 15 employees writing us five digit cheques and Fortune 50 companies writing us seven figure cheques,” Gupta indicated. “We serve two types of markets, one of which is DevOps oriented, and the other one being in IT organizations building Kubernetes based platforms. Our sweet spot there is regulated industries, particularly, financials, health care and retail.”

Gupta noted that they have been selling their commercial products for about two years.

“In the last couple of quarters, however, we have seen a significant uptake in Kubernetes deployments, which has brought with it inquiries from resellers and SIs, asking if we have a channel program.

The incorporation of the channel model is new, and reflects Tigera’s response to that interest.

“We started to get some feelers about five months ago, and about three months ago that picked up, and we started working with partners informally,” Gupta said. “We have now launched the program in a more structured way, and have had our first events with channel partners. Kubernetes is a complex sale and complex selling process where you don’t want to bring the channel in too early. We are now ready to scale the business through the channel.”

Many of the existing partners are more strategic vendor alliances – AWS, Azure, Fortinet, Red Hat, and SUSE Rancher – but the new program targets all types of partners, including solution provider resellers, systems integrators, consultants, and distributors with practices related to DevOps, microservices, networking and security.

“We have about 10 partners signed and are actively generating pipeline, and we have a couple of wins already,” Gupta said. “Our hypothesis is that we are a better fit for small to medium size SIs, cloud consulting partners and some resellers who provide some value-add services.”

The plan is to expand the channel fairly rapidly.

“We are more focused on quality, so the absolute number is not that important for us,” Gupta said. “I don’t see us having hundreds of partners. I would rather have the largest OpenShift or Rancher reseller in each country. We do, however, expect to go to 3-4 times the number of partners very quickly.”

The Tigera partner program provides partners with sales leads, incentives, MDF,  technical assistance, and product education, through both deal registration and referral compensation models.

“At its core, there is a discount structure to manage different tiers and it has an enablement and certification process as well,” Gupta indicated. “Because of our roots, we have a certification process which lets them align with our salespeople and architects.”

Gupta emphasized that Tigera is interested in talking with focused Kubernetes companies in the channel

“We encourage channel partners involved in building container practices and Kubernetes solutions encourage to explore Tigera,” he said. “We are seeing a significant acceleration in the market, and you need cloud native Kubernetes for these. You can’t try and shoehorn legacy tech in.”

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