Data security vendor Imperva Networks has hailed its new partner programme as the "missing link" in its channel proposition – just as speculation over its ownership heats up.
The NYSE-listed firm, which competes with F5 Networks, Akami Networks and Guardium, is offering top-level Platinum partners a higher deal registration discount of up to 30 per cent, as well as new marketing goodies, under the new scheme.
Karl Soderlund, vice president of worldwide channels and alliances at Imperva, described the old programme to CRN as a "bit of a laggard that needed updating".
"I've been on board for a year now, and I think we had an incredible product set and channel, but the missing link is that we didn't have a great channel programme," he said.
Top-level Platinum partners can bag up to 30 points for selling Imperva's SecureSphere web application firewall (WAF) offering, on top of a baseline discount of 15 per cent.
"That's dramatically better than it was," Soderlund said. "We looked around the market at some of the larger players out there and we believe it's the best in class now. We're trying to inspire partners and get more mind share."
The shake-up comes after Imperva announced it had initiated a strategic review of the business following "disappointing" Q2 results, sparking speculation that it could be snapped up by the likes of Cisco or Symantec.
When asked about this, Soderlund said: "We are 100 per cent committed to the programme and channel partners we have in place. Our partners haven't missed a beat – we live in a world where there are a lot of changes in the vendor landscape, but if there's value in the technology, customers will invest."
Graham Jones, UK managing director at Imperva distributor Exclusive Networks, said he could see the logic of Imperva joining forces with a larger vendor such as Cisco, and welcomed the partner programme reboot.
"The majority of Imperva's stuff is WAFs and as people such as Palo Alto and Fortinet build out more platform capabilities in cybersecurity, the standalone vendors are going to be more exposed, therefore they will need bigger pockets," he said. "If the big boys can do 80 per cent, would you spend all your money on someone that can do 100 per cent?"
He added: "The challenge they've had in the UK is literally all their staff left at the beginning of the year, and that has caused a bit of a lull in the partner programme," he said. "But they're now recruiting, and it's nice to go back and say there's a new team who are committed to a two-tier channel."
Rob Swainson, sales director at Imperva partner Blue Cube, said his business with the vendor had cooled in recent years.
"The partner programme fell by the wayside a couple of years ago, and partners at that stage felt unloved, and business probably suffered as a result. But they still have great technolgy," he said.
David Lannin, director of technology at security VAR Sapphire, which partners with Trustwave and Trusted Knight in the WAF space, said demand for the type of technology Imperva offers is gaining traction.
"We're seeing customers appreciate the value of the technology more than ever before," he said.
"There has been a lot of high-profile attacks that have centred around compromising and stealing information from websites. We do application testing and some of the results that come back are terrifying."
Soderlund said Imperva competes against the likes of F5 in the traditional WAF business it grew up in, Akami in cloud-based WAFs, and IBM-Guardium in database management, adding that its combined technology areas represent a $4.6bn (£3.5bn) market opportunity.
"We believe that if you protect the data from an inside-going-out model, you are much safer than if you protect the end-point or network themselves," he said.
Imperva partners will now be classified as Platinum, Gold or Silver, with the former two levels having a revenue gate of $1m and $250,000 respectively. Unlike the old programme, training requirements are also now tied into the scheme.
Soderlund said he expected about five of Imperva's 30 active UK partners to make Platinum level.
"We are trying to make it fairly exclusive – we need to motivate people to sell and invest more, and the margins will be reflective of that," he said, citing Armstrong Adams, now part of NCC Group, as one of its largest UK allies.
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