Launched New Generation Partner Program - Manish Alshi, Check Point

Recently in an interaction with DQ Channels Manish Alshi, Executive Director, Channels & Alliances, (India & SAARC). Check Point shared insights on the revamped partner program and more.

Bharti Trehan
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Launched New Generation Partner Program - Manish Alshi, Check Point

Manish Alshi, Executive Director, Channels & Alliances, (India & SAARC) Check Point

How long has it been since Check Point launched its Partner Program?


At the beginning of this year, we completely overhauled the previous partner program. We revolutionized the entire partner program and introduced a new version called the New Generation Partner Program (NGPP). We launched it during the CPX Asia Pacific in Bangkok, Japan, in January.

There are significant changes in this new partner program, specifically designed to help partners work more easily and effectively with Check Point. This marks the beginning of the changes we have incorporated, and so far, it has been very well received by the partner ecosystem globally, especially in India. As we continue our conversation, I will brief you on the key changes that have been implemented, how they are benefiting the partners, and why it is now easier for them to work with us compared to the previous program.

How is India placed in Check Point's global strategy and how is it an important performance market for Check Point globally?


India is a strategic marketplace for Check Point. The presence of Check Point in India has been established for more than 23 years, with a significant part of it being a direct presence. Check Point has established comprehensive operations and a marketplace in India. It’s not just a sales organization; we also have our Technical Assistance Center (TAC) based in India. India is a significant location for us.

Additionally, we have supporting functions catering to order management, finance, and more. Importantly, we have a sales organization that is now about 125 people strong, covering various aspects such as sales, pre-sales, technical support, channels, and more. From that perspective, we have been growing consistently in India over the last 23 years, establishing a customer base that we have been serving consistently.

Furthermore, we have a robust partner ecosystem that works closely with us to meet customers' needs and keep them informed about developments in the cybersecurity space. India has been a strategic marketplace for us for a very long time.


How has been the growth of your channel business in recent times? And what major trends do you see influencing the channel market?

I would like to highlight that the channel is the only route to market that Check Point follows globally. Typically, we follow a two-tier structure where the customer places the order with the reseller, and then the distributor/aggregator places the order with us. This is an established mechanism, and we do not do transactions directly. 

To answer your second question about the evolution of the channel ecosystem for us, until about three years ago, we had around 250 active partners who transacted with us at least once a year. Today, we have more than 600 such partners, and I anticipate that we will onboard another 150 partners this financial year, helping us cover the length and breadth of the country.


This dependency on channels, coupled with our new-generation partner program, is helping us form stronger alliances with the ecosystem, ensuring we reach more customers and address their requirements more effectively.

Regarding the evolution of the channel program, we have simplified the entire tiering structure of the partner program, reducing it from 6 tiers to 4 to make it easier to understand. Each tier has explicit benefits that align with the partner’s investment in the Check Point business. One significant change is addressing the feedback about the high cost of OEM partnerships. 

Typically, the cost of technical certifications can be substantial, which is a barrier for partners. In the new partner program, we have waived these costs. For example, if two certifications required at a particular tier cost $6,000, we now provide these certifications free of charge. This lowers the barrier for partners, allowing them to attain expertise and start their go-to-market campaigns without significant upfront investment.


We have also simplified the deal registration process, making it easier for partner sales reps to register deals, lock in opportunities, work exclusively with the Check Point team, and reduce their dependence on Check Point for sales progression. They now have more freedom to offer incremental discounts and greater benefits throughout the sales cycle, enabling them to close opportunities independently without delays.

Additionally, we have upgraded our mobile app, the Check Point Engage App, which is a tool for partner sales reps. When visiting customers, they can access all necessary information, including competitive intelligence and responses to common objections, directly from the app. This reduces delays caused by having to gather information and get back to customers. Deal registrations can also be done through the mobile app, making the process instantaneous and providing immediate support from Check Point.

Another significant change is our investment in upskilling partner technical resources to create a services portfolio around the Check Point business. This enhances profitability for partners by offering a 360-degree relationship with customers, including product sales and service capabilities.


These changes are helping the channel ecosystem to evolve, becoming more agile in addressing customer requirements. Additionally, technological advancements such as generative AI are also influencing our approach.

What is the role of partners in this digital disruption era?

From time to time, disruptive technologies emerge that change how customers consume products and how organizations like ours evolve from a product perspective. The latest trend in the market is generative AI. Over the last few years, Check Point has consistently been ahead of the curve, incorporating elements of generative AI, including machine learning and artificial intelligence, into its threat intelligence engines to prevent cyber-attacks on customers. This forward-thinking approach has been in our DNA long before it became a widespread phenomenon.


As the next step, we have now incorporated more than 10 artificial intelligence engines into our threat intelligence domain. This enhancement allows us to identify threats faster and more intuitively before they become problems for customers. Additionally, by integrating certain automation elements into the deployment and management of Check Point products, we enable customers to utilize the AI copilot more effectively to manage the cybersecurity landscape.

Regarding the channel ecosystem, partners are also going through a learning curve to upskill their resources, understand generative AI concepts, and incorporate them into their service portfolios. Our initial assessment indicates that existing partners with domain expertise in cybersecurity will be the fastest to incorporate generative AI technologies and expertise into their operations, thereby better-serving customers with these new technologies.

This is how we see the disruption caused by generative AI as a transformative technology.

What percentage of the business are you driving through the channel ecosystem?

The channel is the only route to market that Check Point follows, which means 100% of Check Point India’s business happens through channels. The routes to market can vary; we have a reseller ecosystem, a systems integration ecosystem, an MSSP ecosystem, an ISV ecosystem, and so on. However, the fact remains that every single transaction happens through the channel ecosystem. We are proving that we are truly a 100% channel organization.

What are the perks for the channel partners associated with you?

Our overall incentivization strategy for channels primarily emanates from two important areas. The first, of course, is the basic philosophy that the incentive or benefit should be proportional to the investment that the partner makes in the Check Point business. The second element is the priorities that Check Point has for a given period, which must align with our incentive philosophy.

To cater to the first requirement, as I highlighted before, Check Point invests more as partners progress through the tiering structure and advance to higher levels. We have discussed how Check Point covers the cost of initial certifications at different tier levels, ensuring that partners do not have to spend money on these initial certifications and meet the prerequisites at various levels. This benefit ranges from $6,000 to $12,000, depending on the partner’s tier and certification requirements. This is a clear financial benefit that accrues at the beginning of the partnership.

The second important element is our reliance on partners for demand generation. We understand that it is crucial to have a program supporting partners in creating more opportunities in the market and reaching more customers.

To this end, we have a co-op engine that is directly proportional to the partner's business, accruing a certain percentage as co-op funds. These funds are used for demand generation activities, enablement activities, roadshows, customer workshops, and so on. Additionally, we have a Marketing Development Fund (MDF), which is allocated annually to Check Point.

We work with our managed partners and distributors to jointly develop go-to-market plans funded by Check Point. This helps them build their pipelines around Check Point and ensures they have a significant role in opportunity generation and overall revenue.

The first element of investment focuses on partner progression, while the second element of investment aligns with Check Point's strategy for a specific period. For FY24, we have doubled our focus on new customer acquisitions (new logos) and the proliferation of the Infinity program, which is a platform approach toward customers. We emphasize growth technology products, primarily in cloud security, secure end-user access, and endpoint security. Our active incentivization is concentrated on these three focus areas.

Additionally, we have a new customer rebate program that provides benefits to partners for closing new business with new customers. At the end of the half-year, a certain percentage is given to partners as a pure play margin or rebate, which can be realized as profit or reinvested in the business. This initiative has been well-received by the partner ecosystem.

Furthermore, we also have programs for partner organizations and their sales and presales reps, encouraging them to engage in the right activities to proliferate business and reach customers. This, in a nutshell, is how our incentivization strategy works.

Taking learning from the unprecedented times, What are the top channel direction Check Point has set for its partners in 2024 and beyond?

The COVID-19 period significantly impacted how we interact with partners and customers, as well as how customers consume our products and solutions for their internal requirements. As you know, the transition to hybrid workplaces means people now work from various locations using different devices. This shift has expanded the surface area for threat vectors to attack and infiltrate organizations because employees in various customer organizations often access organizational data through multiple devices simultaneously.

Consequently, the need and demand for cybersecurity have grown significantly post-COVID, largely due to more aggressive threat actors and the proliferation of devices. Many organizations have not yet developed robust security portfolios to protect these proliferating devices. This situation presents a significant opportunity for us and our partner ecosystem to engage with customers, explain our solutions, and address their requirements more effectively and proactively.

Circa 2024, we have seen considerable evolution in our strategies, particularly in how we guide our channel organizations. Our focus now includes revisiting existing customers for refresh opportunities and cross-selling. For instance, we aim to convince customers using firewalls to evaluate a platform approach, allowing them to manage their entire security footprint through a single console.

This broad-level messaging from us to the partners, and from the partners to the customers, is a clear and enduring strategy for the next two to four years. We are gradually shifting from a "best of breed" to a consolidated approach, leveraging Check Point's strategic position, which combines both.

Additionally, new customer acquisition remains a priority. We've been predominant in metro areas and within the enterprise and commercial sectors. However, through our partner ecosystem, we aim to extend our reach across the entire country, including SMB and MSME markets, with a product portfolio that serves network security and end-user protection needs.

Furthermore, we emphasize educating customers and partners about our comprehensive product portfolio, one of the widest and most advanced in the cybersecurity landscape. This ensures that we are considered for any opportunity, whether it involves endpoint security, SaaS, or cloud security. Partners are encouraged to discuss the full range of Check Point products and solutions with customers, highlighting how we can enhance their security portfolios.

Lastly, our message to channel organizations also underscores the importance of focusing on services and technological expertise over the Check Point product platform. Customers increasingly seek more services from the partner ecosystem, not just for deployments and implementations, but also for ongoing support, resilient engineering, and managed security services.

This requires partners to enhance their technical expertise and services portfolio, ultimately leading to better customer service and improved profitability in their cybersecurity business with Check Point.

These focus areas are critical as we align partners with our priorities for 2024 and beyond, ensuring they are well-prepared to meet the evolving demands of the cybersecurity landscape.


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