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Splunk Unveils Partner+ Program Enhancements, Key Acquisition at Global Summit

Splunk first launched its Partner+ Program in 2015 and introduced a new partner portal for all program members last July.

Edward Gately

February 28, 2018

9 Min Read
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**Editor’s Note: Please click here for a recap of the biggest channel-impacting merger and acquisition news from January or here for our most recent list of important channel-program changes you should know.**

Splunk‘s partners have a lot to take in at this week’s Global Partner Summit as the data analytics software provider is rolling out numerous updates and enhancements to its Partner+ Program.

A targeted group of 500 partner executives are attending the conference this week in Las Vegas. At this time last year, Splunk had 750 active partners in its partner community, and that number has since swelled to more than 1,650 active partners today.

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Splunk’s Brooke Cunningham

In addition, it’s partner bookings jumped 40 percent year over year in fiscal 2018, and partner deal registrations totaled more than 12,600.

Splunk first launched Partner+ in 2015 and introduced a new partner portal for all program members last July. The company was listed by MarketsandMarkets as a leading vendor in the global threat-intelligence market, which is anticipated to reach $8.94 billion by 2022.

On Tuesday, Splunk announced it is acquiring Phantom Cyber, a provider of security orchestration, automation and response, for about $350 million. The deal should be final by mid-year. Customers will be able to use Splunk technology for orchestration and automation as a part of their security operations center (SOC) platforms to accelerate incident response while addressing the security skills shortage, the company said.

“Phantom’s employees and technology significantly expand and strengthen Splunk’s vision for the security nerve center and for business revolution through IT,” said Doug Merritt, Splunk’s president and CEO. “Splunk is committed to continuously pushing the limits of technology to help our customers get the answers they need from their data.”

In a Q&A with Channel Partners, Brooke Cunningham, Splunk’s area vice president of global partner programs and operations, details all of the program enhancements and accompanying goals for continued rapid growth

Channel Partners: What’s new at this week’s Global Partner Summit?

Brooke Cunningham: This year we’ve added a whole selection of breakout tracks for our partners and it’s going to give them an opportunity to get into their theater groups as well as take a deeper dive into the topic that we’re going to share on the main stage. Should be a great week.

CP: What’s the latest with Splunk’s partner program? Are there updates coming?

BC: Last year, we made a huge leap forward in our partner program and formalized a number of tracks in the program. Splunk had evolved and we had been working with partners in the ecosystem, but our Partner+ Program was still on the maturation curve. Thanks to the program tracks that we were able roll out, we really accelerated year over year. I’ll share …

… four tracks where we’ve added benefits, and then we’re adding new tracks across three different areas.

At our last global partner summit this time last year, we rolled out an MSP partner program, a technology alliance partner program and a professional-services partner program, and then we put in a number of enhancements to the reseller program … and we launched our new partner portal in July and that was a huge investment that we made. We spoke about ongoing enhancements that we were going to make and I’m going to be sharing and launching those enhancements during the summit.

We’ve more than doubled our active partners year over year, which is really exciting, and it’s in large part due to some of those new tracks in the partner program — and partners really see that opportunity.

CP: What’s new for Splunk’s reseller partners?

BC: Resellers do make up a large portion of our total ecosystem number and it’s a super important route to market for us, so resellers are driving a significant amount of our bookings. In terms of the value we’re adding into the reseller program this year … we were really looking where we can augment the benefits, and then anywhere where the requirements were creating gates or challenges for partners to really engage with the program, we sought to really simplify those where it made sense. So in terms of resellers, we’re adding great pieces around incentives. We started testing out some incentives with our partners in the second half of last year around net-new customers, and we had a great result from that; we drove over 800 new customers through partners in fiscal 2018. Net-new customers is a huge priority focus for Splunk, so partners really played a great role in that result. I’m really proud of that number also because of some of the incentives that we put in place that partners really answered the call.

So we’re going to be expanding incentives through fiscal 2019, and that’s going to be a more consistent part of the program going forward. We’re going to focus on incentives, rebates and other new measures. We’re also simplifying some certification and revenue requirements for our reseller partners, and one addition is a new tier for partners who want to play more globally across multiple sales theaters. So we’re attracting more larger resellers and solution-provider type of organizations that might play in say North America and EMEA. etc. We’re creating a tier for partners to engage at a global level and not have to manage their engagement program in mulitple theaters.

CP: What are the enhancements being provided for other types of partners?

BC: Let’s take the technology alliance partner track … that really fuels some of the growth of that active partner number. Because we were bringing on so many new partners, we heard feedback around the process to get activated and on-boarded as partners. So we’re implementing some faster and easier …

… activation processes. We’ve simplified some of the terms and requirements for our technology alliance partners to make it easier for them to engage with us, and actually providing them with access to marketing materials.

The next is around our professional-services partners and we’re really excited to be launching this week the ability for professional services partners to formally specialize. So we’re rolling out specializations for enterprise security and IT operations. These are going to be the first of more to come. We’re going to roll out some more specializations later this year and it’s going to give them the opportunity to leverage a brand badge or logo that they can really indicate to customers their core expertise around particular areas like enterprise security and IT operations, and they’ll be able to then showcase that in places like our partner locator. And then we’ve also taken out some requirements … to shorten the time it takes to ramp up as a professional-services partner.

And next is around MSPs. We’re adding additional benefits into that track as well in two particular areas that are notable. One is around training discounts, so making it easier and less costly for MSPs to train up their teams, as well as also providing access to marketing materials to this set of partners so they’ll have access to our always on marketing resource center as well.

CP: What’s in store for distribution, referral and OEM partners?

BC: First is distribution. We do work with distribution partners globally in all of our sales theaters and what we’re seeking to do here is just really establish a global program framework. We’re seeking to simplify the discount structure, having more consistency around the world and how we’re working with our partners and incentivizing them. And one thing I’m really excited about here is we are implementing a consistent incentive program within the distribution program that’s really going to focus on creating rebates to drive top-line revenue growth with our distribution partners. So that’s going to provide partners the opportunity to take advantage of both that front-end, but more simplified discount, and also that back-end rebate.

The next track is new, and is around referrals and the ability to capture referral opportunities in a couple of different ways. It could be, for example, a partner type that maybe isn’t engaged in the sales cycle, but through the course of business finds an opportunity that’s really going to provide that mechanism for them to refer a deal over to Splunk and then receive compensation for that. That program could also be relevant for non-partners that just in the course of their normal business they encounter opportunities for Splunk.

And lastly is around OEMs and this is forward-looking, something that we’re going to tackle a little later this year to add a more formalized partner track … really creating a global framework around benefits and speaking specifically about the needs of OEM partners, and then also around some of the elements of how we support through the right type of branding for a …

… powered-by-Splunk application. So we’re excited about this and see a lot of opportunity with OEMs.

CP: What’s the latest with Splunk’s partner portal?

BC: This week I’m going to be announcing two additional areas that have gone live this month. One is the new partner locator. We had gotten a lot of feedback from our partners that they wanted a more robust partner locator on splunk.com. It’s going to allow partners to include things like descriptions of their organizations; it’s a branding element with their logos, as well as for top-tier partners we’re allowing a capability where a customer can actually access them directly by requesting a contact. We’re also rolling out a new partner business planning tool … right in the portal. This is just the beginning, and we’re constantly collecting feedback from our partners. Since launch (last) July, we’ve had over 63,000 logins to our partner portal and we had 3,700 new users within our partner ecosystem since we rolled out. We’re reaching partners from over 90 countries, so we’re truly global in that sense

CP: What are the anticipated outcomes of all of these enhancements for this year and going forward?

BC: We’re laying out some of our targets to partners for the coming year, and Splunk has been growing fast and we see partners as a critical success factor for us to continue to accelerate that revenue growth as we continue to grow. So from a partner booking perspective, we want to continue that trend … we’d like to see that moving toward 50 percent year over year. We’re also really heavily focused on where partners are sourcing revenue. We had over 12,000 deal registrations from our partner ecosystem in fiscal 2018 and that really indicates where partners are sourcing and driving revenue on behalf of Spunk. We want to continue to grow that partner source number.  And then the third is around new customers. We really see partners as a key avenue for us reaching new customers, so that number of over 800 that were driven through partners in fiscal 2018, we’d love to grow that twofold next year.

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About the Author(s)

Edward Gately

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

As news editor, Edward Gately covers cybersecurity, new channel programs and program changes, M&A and other IT channel trends. Prior to Informa, he spent 26 years as a newspaper journalist in Texas, Louisiana and Arizona.

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