In an exclusive interview with DQ Channels, Manish Alshi, Head of Channels and Growth Technologies – India & SAARC, Check Point Software Technologies shed the light on key initiatives undertaken for strengthening the channel ecosystem, any new product addition and channel expansion plan in 2023.
What is the recent development from Check Point’s standpoint, and how did the pandemic affect Check Point’s channel ecosystem?
Check Point has experienced consistent growth across its ecosystem, product portfolios, and go-to-market strategies. However, the pandemic has led to a significant increase in attack vectors and the quantum of attacks, with threat actors becoming more active in India, which has been impacted due to geopolitical situations and the country’s growth parameters. As a cybersecurity organization, Check Point India is augmenting its product lines to cover as much of the landscape as possible and adopting a platform approach that involves a comprehensive security management model. This model would take into account all the different elements of an organization’s infrastructure, including those areas that may be vulnerable to external threats on a daily basis. Check Point is backed by its experience of over 30 years, which covers every single element of cybersecurity.
Post-pandemic, the partner ecosystem has had to change directions from conventional product-selling portfolios to a more consultative approach, with a lot more service requirements coming from customers. This has provided a huge opportunity for the partner organizations to really ramp up their security skills to have the necessary resources to ensure that they’re up to date with the latest technologies and provide a holistic approach to the customers in terms of their day-to-day services management, and cybersecurity services management aspect. Even within the ecosystem, certain sectors such as banking have seen more proliferation of attacks than others.
What are the opportunities for the partners who were into the traditional business earlier, or the SI’s who were into the traditional product offerings now they’re, coming and adopting new technologies? How is Check Point helping those partners specifically to understand the latest technologies?
The channel ecosystem is evolving rapidly, with key trends influencing sales and the use of analytics to provide more experience- and data-oriented solutions. Partners need to stay up to date with industry threats and options for risk mitigation. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are increasingly being used to build real-time threat response solutions. The ecosystem acts as a glue that brings all of these elements together, allowing organizations to meet customer needs more effectively. Check Point invests in the technical capabilities of partners through certifications, smart packages, and technical assistance, such as the Checkmate community, webinars, and online training. Certifications are a continued focus area for Check Point, with more than 250 partner executives sponsored in the past 1.5 years. Hands-on experience is also provided to empower partners with implementation skills to serve customers better.
What percentage of the business are you driving through the channel and what is the entire partner ecosystem for Checkpoint in India? Who is the national distributor, and in terms of how many partners, do you have in your portfolio and which cities you are targeting to expand, those partner ecosystems?
Check Point is a 100% channel-driven company. At Check Point, we firmly believe that the partner ecosystem is critical to scaling our business and view our partners in India as an extension of our team. This also means extending resources available internally for our employees to our partners, ensuring that we are all equipped to succeed together. This includes training where salespeople can get trained at essentially no cost to the solution provider while training for engineers is half the cost of rivals. We also offer one of the best professional services training and shadowing programs in the industry.
Currently, the top 7-8 cities in the country contribute to the maximum stream of business for Check Point. Geo expansion is a very critical motion that Checkpoint is adopting, from a go-to-market perspective this year. Our distributors are helping us to reach Tier two and tier three cities as well so that we can serve a larger set of customers across the country. We will also continue supporting our partner ecosystem through certifications and learning initiatives. In addition, we do see a lot of traction with system integrators, and consultative partners who work with their customers to establish a holistic cybersecurity policy for the respective organizations. With our end-to-end portfolio at Check Point, we are building
Are you planning any new product addition in 2023?
We are intensifying our SMB product portfolio, which is primarily a channel -led go to market strategy. This includes; Enterprise-grade network security, highly integrated, and easy to manage (Quantum Spark Appliances), Innovative email and collaboration application protection (Harmony email & collaboration – Harmony Email & Collaboration), Endpoint and mobile protection for PC, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS with the automated incident response (Harmony EndPoint & Harmony Mobile)
In addition, Check Point Software Technologies has now extended its Cloud Security Offering with a Developer-First Security Platform. With the acquisition of Spectral, an innovator in automated code security, Check Point CloudGuard, which provides consolidated security and threat prevention across all cloud environments, assets, and workloads will deliver the industry’s most comprehensive security platform from code to cloud.
We are also launching our Harmony Email & Collaboration Suite Security Solution in India. This newly launched suite is a SaaS-based solution to secure emails and collaboration tools. The solution will enable its native customers to comply with their data sovereignty & data residency requirements, in line with the stipulated compliance norms. Check Point’s other solutions such as Harmony Mobile, and Harmony End Point (EDR) available in India.
What kind of incentive programs has Check Point initiated for channel partners?
Check Point has one of the ‘strongest balance sheets in the industry’ when it comes to operating margin, gross margin, cash on hand, and lack of debt. This enables us to train partner salespeople and engineers at a fraction of the cost of competitors. Salespeople can get trained at essentially no cost to the solution provider while training for engineers is half the cost of rivals.
Our training and certification program through online and in-person partner enablement platforms offers partners best-in-class training courses to assess, sell, deploy, and support security solutions. We also offer one of the best professional services training and shadowing programs in the industry.
Apart from this, we also have more than two dozen tools to assist our channel partners, some of which are aimed at partners to use with their customers such as assessments and security check-ups. While other tools such as dashboards and quarterly business reviews are intended for the solution providers themselves. For instance, our Check Point PartnerMAP is an exclusive Partner Portal designed to provide our partners with centralised access to Partner Program benefits, from obtaining quotes on renewals and new product purchases to accessing the cooperative marketing funds program.
Our Check Point Partner Program also enables deeper collaboration with Check Point, giving partners access to expert support and resources to speed up customer sales cycles. Partners enjoy predictable growth margins and recognition when winning new accounts, closing strategic win-backs, and accelerating customer adoption and success in cloud security.
We had more than 400 transacting partners in 2022 and we onboarded more than 130 new partners who transacted with us for the first time. Suffice it to say that our geo expansion plans are working in full swing and we are expanding our base across the country through the length and breadth of the country, through these newly onboarded partners and that continues to be our focus in 2023.
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