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Forcepoint channel boss encouraging partners to line up behind SASE

Since joining the company in May, much of Parag Patel’s time has been spent preparing an enhanced channel programme, which went live last month

In early October, Forcepoint rolled out a number of enhancements to its channel partner programme with the aim of making life more rewarding and easier for the channel.

The name that was most closely associated with the plans was Parag Patel, senior vice-president of channel sales for Forcepoint, who joined the business in May with a brief to make a difference in the way the security player works with partners.

The firm already has a network of more than 12,000 partners and not far off 100% of its commercial business goes through those partners.

For Patel, the focus is to support the channel as it heads for the margin-rich pastures of the emerging cloud-based security and software opportunities.

“We’re going to reimagine our whole partner effort along several new dimensions,” he said. “One is, first and foremost, helping them go after the SASE [secure access service edge] opportunity. It’s an $80bn software market and hardware market. It’s a $70bn preferred professional services market. So, we really want to take our new vision, our acquisitions, our revamped product line and positioning, and help the partners capture that market,” he said.

“We’re restructuring the programme, the enablement and the training to make it easier for partners to do business with us, to make it more profitable for the partners and to make it easier for them to build a service practice, because we want partners to lead professional services,” he added.

Patel said current customer priorities included getting channel support with securing hybrid cloud environments and dealing with the risk implications of the move to hybrid working and the rise in edge computing.

“We have more ransomware, more outages, more attacks than we’ve ever seen before. And the threats and the threat landscape is more complicated,” he said.

There are more enhancements to the partner programme to come. The announcements made a few weeks ago were largely directed at the reseller community. The vendor is still working through its distribution strategy and will reveal that in a few months.

“The other thing we’re doing for the channel is really thinking in terms of routes to market,” he said. “What do sellers need, what do distributors need and what role do they have to play? What do systems integrators need? What role will MSPs play?”

The final area that has kept Patel busy in his first year at the vendor is the determination to make the business easier for partners to do business with.

“We’re making a massive investment in a systems upgrade in simplifying and integrating system to system level with our partners, so we can have automated coding and deal registration and things like that,” he said.

One likely consequence of delivering more improvements to channel partners is that it will be noticed across the community, enticing others to work with the vendor.

“I fully expect we’ll have more partners a year from now and two years from now. It’s an open partner programme so anyone can join,” said Patel.

Having spent the past few months getting the partner programme changes ready for launch, Patel already knows what he is going to be spending the immediate future doing.

“You’re going to see the story come together, the product line come together, and a lot of push of the messaging, early in the new year. We’re going into the end of the year, holidays and close of the year, all that is kicking in,” he said.

“The partners certainly sat up and took notice of Forcepoint this year. We’ve spent the past six months really digging in and looking at ourselves, coming up with our priorities, making sure we’ve got the right investments in the right places. Then we’ve quietly made these acquisitions, we quietly made some changes, and we’re just now at a point where we can come out and publicly explain what our message and strategy is, and I think that’s starting to get everyone’s attention and excitement,” he concluded.

Forcepoint’s partner programme enhancements

On the financial rewards side:

  • Introduction of the elite titanium partner level.
  • Rebates.
  • New deal registration benefits with increased differentiation across partner levels and more money for registering new opportunities.

On the operations side:

  • An enhanced partner portal.
  • New enablement offerings and technical guidance.
  • Single programme structure capable of supporting resellers, global systems integrators, service providers, OEMs and technology partners.


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