Observability vendor Cribl to overhaul channel program and enhance channel value in 2022

Zachary Kilpatrick arrives from Okta to grow Cribl’s channel business further, which will include the rolling out of a new channel program this spring.

Zachary Kilpatrick, Cribl’s Vice President of Global Channels.

Last August, San Francisco-based observability pipeline provider Cribl brought Okta and Juniper veteran Zachary Kilpatrick on board as their first Vice President of Global Channels. While Cribl already has a partner-first Go-to-Market model, Kilpatrick has been tasked with building up the channel business further and overhauling the company’s existing channel program to make it both more nimble and more effective.

Kilpatrick’s new position was created, and he himself brought to Cribl, for a very specific purpose.

“In a word – scale,” he said. “This will deliver incremental value to the company. I was also tasked with building out the partner program.”

Cribl, whose three founders all came from Splunk, was created in 2017 to handle the increasingly massive amounts of data that was going to SIEMs and login tools, get it into multiple places and create more affordable and greater capability systems.

“We are a middleware software company, so the value we provide is agnostic,” Kilpatrick said. “We don’t lock any customers in. We allow them to have choice. Customers want that flexibility – that control that they don’t have with platform items.”

Cribl’s Go-to-Market model is a partner-first one, with a direct touch sales team.

“The guidance from sales to the direct sales team is for them to collaborate with partners,” Kilpatrick said. “Our direct sales team is uplifted on all business done through channel – not just the partner-sourced business.”

Kilpatrick indicated that Cribl had roughly 90 partners when he came in, and have 117 globally now.

“There are a lot of partners that found us through those platform players – a mix of service specialists, boutique SIs, and security resellers, both national and local,” he said. “The most successful group is security partners, and those who understand the SIEM world have been the most successful. Guidepoint and Optiv are both in the top 10 partners. MSPs with MDR solutions, and also global Sis who insert us into a managed services stack are important.”

Kilpatrick said there is some overlap between Cribl partners and those from his former company, Okta.

“The overlap is among those national partners like Guidepoint and Optiv who have a diversified portfolio,” he said. “We have a very good crossover, both regionally and nationally. Those are the best partners out there.

While there is a growing services play, right now most of Cribl’s partners make their money off licensing margins.

“Because of our complementary solutions, we fit into an existing data flow and we make everything better,” Kilpatrick said. “We don’t have to get partners to sell a new widget. This saves customers money. It’s rare to make a good margin on a product where you aren’t replacing something.”

Kilpatrick stressed that major channel enhancements are on the way in 2022, beginning with a reboot of the channel program.

“The plan is to do a relaunch of the program in May,” he said. “We will also be doing some rebranding of the program around ‘better together’ solution value, in order to better sell solutions with our ecosystem. We will also roll out some new processes and policies to protect profitability.

Cribl has a channel program today, but Kilpatrick said that there’s not much to it.

“It’s a bare bones program, which is limited in terms of requirements,” he indicated. “The value is in the engagement model more than in the tools and resources, and we will ramp those up between now and May.

Kilpatrick emphasized that he does not want to create an overly complex program where partners need to be jumping through hoops to get rewards.

“I’ve administered some programs that were massively overweight, where you need things like accreditations to earn margins,” he said. “We don’t want to be that. We want it to be useful for partners to drive profitability without the noise of a big partner program, and keep it simple and actionable.  We ultimately want to create a really nimble partner program – not a bloated one that becomes a checkbox. Enablement is key but it’s a matter of balancing that without overburdening the partner.”

Kilpatrick said to look for some other major new initiatives from Cribl coming this year.

“We have some big things happening this year, including really major product launches and announcements which will appeal to partners who are looking for more to sell,” he indicated.