Palo Alto Networks has announced its intention to overtake rivals Cisco and Check Point to become the "most important security company in the world".
Speaking to CRN, Mark Anderson, senior vice president of worldwide field operations, said he felt assured that Palo Alto can leapfrog its more established competitors despite bursting on the scene less than a decade ago.
"We feel humbly and confidently that we can become the most important security company in the world, because unlike some of our competitors this is not a distraction for us, this is our sole focus and we feel [because] our company has the best platform and the most pure focus on customer satisfaction, security and success, we will win in the long run," he said.
"We feel that it's playing out with our customers, it's playing out with our revenue growth and market value acceleration and it's playing out on Wall Street, because Wall Street is valuing us pretty close to on par with some of our competitors...We want to overtake Cisco and Check Point, not just for the commercial benefit, but we are a publicly traded company and we want to be good to our shareholders."
Founded in 2005, Palo Alto has disrupted the security hardware market with its next-generation firewall technology and now claims to have more than 2,000 global channel partners.
Anderson also said he felt because of the "unprecedented revenue opportunities" it offers its partners, resellers are moving their investment away from the legacy vendors.
"For us the channel is truly an extension of our sales team, and I want that sales team to be as productive as possible as quickly as possible and by doing that, it's going to direct investment from channel partners away from legacy vendors – Check Point, Cisco, Juniper and Symantec – towards us," he said.
"What they [the partners] are seeing in the market is that IT landscape budgets are flat, but without question security investments are going up. It's the top board-level priority in enterprises around the world today and there is the very real fact that legacy technology isn't working.
"The time is right for partners because we are giving partners unprecedented year-on-year revenue growth in a market that is flat in technology spending," he said.
This revenue growth has been evident within Palo Alto, with it recording revenues of $217.7m (£147.62m) for its most recent quarter ending 31 January 2015, a year-on-year growth of 54 per cent.
But despite this vertiginous growth of the US-based vendor, there have been signs in recent weeks that UK operations have not been running seamlessly.
CRN has learned from sources close to the matter that in the past few weeks, several key UK staff have departed the vendor, including enterprise sales director Scott Cutler.
Meanwhile, in January CRN reported that Palo Alto told its UK channel partners lead times could be doubled and may be up to four weeks for orders.
Speaking on this matter, Anderson said the issue was affecting only five per cent of its delivery requests and while this situation remains the same, he said he has received no complaints from partners or customers in the last quarter.
"I would rather under-promise than over-deliver, and we are maintaining that four-week lead time horizon but we are trying to do a better job in meeting customer expectations."
Despite these recent changes, Andrew Brimson, managing director at Khipu Networks, claimed he felt happy with Palo Alto from a partner's perspective.
"We have had a good relationship with Palo Alto for two years, both in the UK and in South Africa – we have had a very good couple of years with them and we hope to see that growth [continue] as we move forwards," he said.
Training, training, training
Anderson said Palo Alto's focus on providing its partners with the best training possible is critical to its channel strategy, and in line with this at the end of last year the company announced it was opening up its internal sales training to its channel partners.
"As a young company we had a good partner programme but we didn't really treat our partners like business partners. We expended little effort in teaching them how to sell our technology; most of the training was technical training.
"We feel it's important as we have been scaling so massively in the last three years, that we want to make an outsize investment in our global channel team to treat our channel partners like business partners," Anderson said.
He added that Palo Alto has now grown its channel team to 60 to 70 global staff who are dedicated to "enabling and motivating" its channel partners.
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