‘MENA market is the key to our business success’

FireEye’s Channel program is a partner-friendly, lucrative initiative that empowers partners, while protecting and nurturing them.  Jason Ellis, EMEA VP Channel, FireEye, speaks to Anita Joseph about the benefits of the program, its many highlights, and the way forward.

Please give us the details of the FireEye channel program. How do you think it will benefit the channel partners?
 The FireEye partner program is based on a common structure of platinum, gold and silver partners. In the past 12 months, we have initiated a lot of activities that offer additional value to our channel partners.

This includes features such as Back-end rebate: This a brand new and lucrative program. In this program, if the partners achieve a revenue goal around deal registration, we will pay them a back-end rebate. This program was introduced this year, Front-end protection: FireEye makes sure that any opportunities registered by our partners are protected. So, we win and lose with our partners who have registered those opportunities, Incumbency protection program: Under this program, FireEye protects the original license transacted by partners. This means that if any other partner attempts to compete, we will pay a premium versus the incumbent partner. In this scenario, the partner is protected from the original deal registration, the sales on that will go towards the goal and the partners are protected in the future years as well and SPIFF: This program provides sales performance incentives and recognitions to the sales and technical team members based on the net new customers introduced to FireEye.

Also, in order to be much more focused, we have reduced the number of partners in our program. To you give an example – we have halved the number of gold partners. We have applied the similar strategy for our platinum and silver partners.

How would you describe FireEye’s expansion to South Africa, Nigeria and North Africa? How do you think this will help the channel partners?
 These markets are the fastest growing across the territory and have become key to the success of our business. From an investment standpoint, the Middle East and Africa received more investment than our other areas in the EMEA region this year yielding a net new 23 Technical support experts in 11 partners across seven new African countries. Those investments have gone in territory-based sales and technical support. We have on ground support in North Africa and local markets helping our partners close opportunities. We are also investing in more and more field-based resources for our partners than ever before.

 How do you evaluate the channel partnership system in the MENA region?
 FireEye has witnessed a 200 percent y-o-y increase in our opportunities yielding for our channel which is a tremendous success. This the fastest growing channel ecosystem that we have in EMEA. We also have some strong, long lasting and trusted relationships with our channel.

 What are the strengths and challenges in the Middle East?
 One of the challenges we face here is getting the right resources and expertise both for our partners and customers. That said, we see a lot of partners leaning on FireEye to use some of the services we offer. We have great synergies with our channel around this challenge.

Speaking about strengths – we have great committed partners. They are specialized and they know what are doing.

How have you revamped your MSSP Partner Program? What are the new features?
We are very excited about the revamped MSSP Partner program. The program gives our partners the ability to own a license and turn that into a service for our partners. It’s probably the biggest conversation we have with partners when I am out and about in this region.

We are looking forward to introducing different billing models and management tools. At present, we have about 20 partners in this program in EMEA – all starting to construct services around FireEye technologies and take them to their customers. These include managing endpoint services, orchestration service, managing email service solutions, etc.

What are some of the qualities required for an effective channel partner program?
 In order to solve some sophisticated attacks our customers are facing, it is essential for the partners to have adequate knowledge and awareness.  FireEye has invested a huge amount of capital, particularly in the MEA region on partner training – both sales and technical.

FireEye also runs regular boot camps and quarterly technical boot camps so that our channel partners are equipped to solve the latest cyber challenges. We also believe that the ability to share opportunities plays a key role as it allows us to help our partners in closing those opportunities.

How do you think channel partners can stay abreast of the rapidly evolving technological landscape?
 In order to stay abreast of the rapidly evolving technological landscape, I would recommend our partners do the following:

 Ensure that they are in touch with one of our technical experts who are available to offer advice on issues big and small, build a relationship with the FireEye Mandiant team which is spread across the territory offering an extensive services portfolio and training catalogue for the welfare of our channel partners,be aware of which threat actors are attacking which industry to allow adequate preparation for attacks.

During our events, we always share information about threat landscape and provide solutions to our partners.

 What are your future plans for channel partners and how do you propose to implement them in the region?
FireEye will continue to focus on a target number of partners. Adopting this strategy has been a winning formula for FireEye in terms of driving gross revenue through the channel. Additionally, we will continue to evolve our MSSP Partner Program.

Different ways of consuming our technologies on a monthly or annual basis plays an important role when it comes to our channel partners. We will also continue to equip our partners with management tools which will allow them to build services.  Focusing on fewer, but more strategic partners, continuing to protect our partners profitability, and modernising how we go to market is going to be our strategy for the future.