It has been a very interesting first 9 months here at Tufin, primarily managing go-to-market engagements and developing key strategic technology partner relationships. Every conversation involves identifying and articulating value across 3 different planes that are crucial for providing solutions for large enterprise network security:
- What is the value to the enterprise customer as a result of this partnership?
- What is the value to the technology partner and to Tufin?
- What is the value to our joint channel and resellers?
There is one part that is easier to explain – fundamentally, the value of being an abstraction layer on top of leading firewall, public and private cloud technologies. Such partnerships are bread and butter to what Tufin does as a company that is of ultimate value to the end customer. No brainer there.
What has been more interesting are the answers to the remaining questions, which I've had the opportunity to hear directly from our partners both on the technology side as well as channel/reseller side.
Case in point: Tufin participated in Fortinet's Accelerate 2016 Global Partner Conference and it was another excellent forum to hear the views of technology vendors, channel partners and even some customers who were present. Some high-level observations and trends:
- Platform solutions with vendors as trusted advisors: There is a definite ongoing trend of customers seeing value in platform solutions as opposed to point products, especially within the larger enterprises. Customers are expecting their technology vendors and preferred resellers to be trusted advisors to help extract long-term value from their investments in these platforms.
- Legacy firewall environments: The trend of customers who continue to update or replace their legacy firewall environments and protections continues to be strong. But as with any large scale effort this almost always happens in phases. One reseller recounted one of his customers telling him, “My day job (of maintaining network visibility, connectivity, compliance and change management) does not stop just because I have to deploy new firewalls."
- Cloud projects: A large number of customers are in progress with or are actively considering cloud projects of either the private or public cloud kind (or both!) including leveraging the advantages of Software Defined Networking. Add items 2 and 3 above and the sum is a state where complexity and heterogeneity are even more magnified. Yes, these points have been central to the Tufin message for a while now. But what was new is that I barely had to speak to these points – they were being spoken TO me! I can only guess that as the scale of change accelerates and complexity increases, the message is starting to resonate more, bringing the value of the right solution clearly into focus.
As a network security professional from the largest resellers in the world recently pointed out, “Look, if I am to be a trusted advisor to my customer, I need to be able to lay out a realistic long-term plan keeping in mind my customers' near-term objectives as well. If I can provide a solution package that allows my customers to do their existing job more efficiently so that they not only dedicate the appropriate time and resources to their next-gen firewall/public/private cloud projects, but also accelerate their adoption, then that is a win for all involved.”
I just smiled and nodded my agreement.