Jon Peppler, Salt’s new Vice President of Worldwide Channels, sees extraordinary growth in the API Security market as almost certain, and that an enhanced channel program is needed to help partners meet demand.
Today, API Security unicorn Salt Security is announcing both the expansion of its Salt Security Essential Partner Program, and the recent appointment of Jon Peppler as Vice President of Worldwide Channels. This continues the company’s move to a channel first strategy, which began almost a year ago with the appointment of Nutanix veteran Anton Granic as Salt’s VP of Worldwide Sales.
Peppler, who has been working in channels for 30 years, most recently as VP of Global Channels at Bitglass, said that a perfect storm of events brought him to Salt.
“One was the extraordinary market demand,” he said. “Gartner said that by 2022 API Security would be the number one threat vector, but it actually turned out to be in 2021. The product shows proof of value in minutes. There is also a great team here, as they have emphasized hiring experience.”
Salt uses an API Context Engine [ACE] Architecture which combines cloud-scale big data, a patented machine learning [ML] and artificial intelligence [AI] capabilities to secure APIs automatically and continuously.
“We are using ML and AI to find those risky APIs, watch who is using them and be able to give better advice to better develop APIs down the road,” Peppler said.” CISOs are now waking up to fact that APIs affect everything, and that they need to know things like how were they documented, and how often were they changed. Our partners can use us to readily show them their API vulnerabilities.”
This is why the market is only going to continue to expand, Peppler stated.
“API security is a $1.7 billion market, which is based around DevOps, and we expect that you will see the large players making more announcements in this space,” he said. “With API Security, the only qualifying question is ‘do you have applications.’ As a result, we have tripled our footprint in sales, and posted exponential growth.”
The target audience for this is also very broad.
“There is value for any size customer,” Peppler said. “Our sweet spot is organizations with 1000-10,0000 employees, but we also have customers who are much larger than that. At the other end, our customer base goes down to ones with hundreds of end users.”
Peppler explained that Salt’s 100% channel-focused model means that all new business is fulfilled through the channel, and that they will migrate customers who originally bought direct to a partner when it works best for the customer.
“When Anton Granic came on board, the change to channel-first and 100% channel occurred,” Peppler said. “A lot of best practices were put into place – just not written down. These are things like trust, relating to things like partner integrity and deal registration, as well as marketing alignment. The new program will fully roll all of these out.”
While Salt is looking to the program to add to their number of quality-first partners, Peppler stressed that the emphasis is still on quality, not on numbers.
“We are very selective,” he said. “It is more profitable to have fewer partners and make them successful than it is goes go out and sign hundreds of them.”
The Salt Security Essential Partner Program is designed to maximize the chances of partner success by making them able to do customer deployments and support without relying on support from Salt at every stage.
“The ability to be autonomous is a key part of our program,” Peppler indicated. “We grab data without having to upset inline production.”
The Salt Partner Program currently has two tiers, Associate and Professional, and plans to add new tiers over time as the program expands. Tier is determined by the number of sales and solution architect certifications, pipeline value identified, and joint customer wins.
Basic table stake items like deal registration, technical enablement, and growth accelerators through incentives and marketing investments are in place, but Peppler said there is room to expand on this.
“There will be elements that will be added,” he noted. “We have deal registration, but it would be great to have it accessible by PRM. Tech certification will be a formal environment with testing at some point, which it is not today. We also want partners to have the ability to have a lab test environment. We do, however, heave strong features like lucrative spiffs, high margins, money back at end of term – and some unique features.”
Peppler said that the focus of Salt’s channel strategy going forward is to be prepared for the inflection point.
“At some point, demand will be really huge. If it was 10x or 50x, how would be handle that. We want to be able to exceed all of our internal goals while building a successful new path for partners.”