August 14, 2019
Aviatrix Systems develops networking and security software that lets enterprises construct multiple and hybrid clouds across different types of vendors, from Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure to Palo Alto and Splunk. Sherry Wei, formerly of Huawei, Cisco and the early Nortel days, founded the company in 2014. As Aviatrix explains it, Wei wanted to extend the enterprise data center to AWS without touching the underlying network infrastructure.
One of Aviatrix’s key talking points is its approach to achieving all this. The answer lies in simplicity and support, which CEO Steve Mullaney, a 30-year veteran in network infrastructure and security, discusses in this Q&A. Aviatrix extends native cloud services through orchestration, eliminating the problems DIYers and other cloud builders encounter.
Aviatrix’s Steve Mullaney
Aviatrix continues to build its channel program and wants to add more managed service providers, integrators and consultants to its partner ranks; in fact, Aviatrix is looking for what Mullaney calls “true partners,” not just resellers. He explains more about that, as well as what the company offers in terms of training, certification, deal protection and more.
Finally, despite its relative youth, Aviatrix already boasts big-name clients. Hyatt, Informatica, Netflix and NASA stand out as prime examples.
This Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.
Channel Partners: Tell us what customers love about your product or service. What’s the secret selling sauce?
Steve Mullaney: The corporate data center is essentially dead. Enterprises have made the decision that they are “all in” on the cloud, which means it’s no longer just “fun and games” for them. It’s serious business. Cloud is where they are putting their strategic investments going forward, while the legacy data center is now an expense. And, with the cloud being the new enterprise compute model, it requires the right network and security architecture to be successful.
“7 Minutes” is a feature where we ask channel executives from startups – or companies that may be new to the Channel Partners audience – a series of quick questions about their businesses and channel programs.**
“Go build” might be a wonderful concept for developers creating new cloud-native apps and workloads, but when it comes to cloud networking – and securing data in motion within the cloud and to the cloud – enterprises want the networking and security framework laid out and simplified. Think about mainstream companies. These enterprises are asking for someone to define the architecture for them in the same way Cisco did for them in the client server era.
I’ve been involved with Aviatrix for over a year and as CEO now for five months, and every day I see more and more evidence of the fact that our ability to provide an architecture – a validated design that covers all their use cases – is one of the main things that organizations love about us.
CP: Describe your channel program — metal levels, heavy on certifications, open or selective, unique features? Do you work with masters and/or distributors?
SM: The Aviatrix Partner Program is designed for …
… MSPs, consultants and systems integrators who are helping mid and large enterprises with their cloud and digital transformation. I always like to mention that we are interested in true partners, not resellers. Our partners have had a lot to do with shaping our program, including the following features:
Co-marketing funds: Aviatrix provides joint funding and execution of marketing programs to drive co-selling and revenue.
Certification training for approved partners: The Aviatrix Certified Expert training program is a more formal multicloud network and security certification for partners, system integrators and customers. The ACE program – managed by a dedicated team at Aviatrix – provides ongoing education to enable architects, engineers and technical staff to develop advanced competencies in native cloud capabilities and Aviatrix offerings while providing a framework for applying these learnings to meet customer requirements. The ACE certification includes three levels – associate, professional and design architect – and consists of both classroom style education, self-paced learning, and real-world experience with customers.
Deal registration: Enables members of Aviatrix partner organizations to easily register a new opportunity with Aviatrix and in return receive solution architect support, sales support and deal protection.
Monthly “First Friday” training: These sessions cover tips and tricks, new product features, design patterns and customer learnings.
Technical and sales support: Access to Aviatrix technical experts and sales as needed for delivering a better customer experience.
Aviatrix executive access: Our partner management teams (CEO, sales, marketing and technical) are formally introduced to their Aviatrix Executive counterparts to ensure alignment and joint goals.
Not-for-resale software: Aviatrix Controller and Gateway offerings provided to partners for internal use, lab environments and customer demonstration purposes.
CP: Percentage of sales through the channel, number of partners, average margin. Go.
SM: We are growing our channel program. Today we have fewer than 30 partners and are looking to expand with enterprise-focused channel partners. Again, we are interested in closely partnering with these organizations with a focus on helping mid to large organizations execute their cloud and digital transformation. The majority of our new enterprise customers are won with our partners — some of whom resell our software and some whom are recommending, but not reselling, Aviatrix as part of their cloud transformation practices.
CP: Who are your main competitors, and what makes your offering better?
SM: The competition today is typically a DIY solution based on the native capabilities from cloud providers such as AWS, Azure and Google Cloud. The challenge is that these networking solutions are often manually deployed, often have inherent functional limitations, and can be complex to operate, especially as virtual private cloud counts and the number of cloud accounts within the organization grow.
Most importantly, these solutions aren’t built from a multicloud perspective and many of our enterprise customers are executing a multicloud strategy; in fact, I have not yet met an enterprise that plans to only use one cloud. And these customers are starting to realize that the constructs, the naming conventions, the limitations – everything about the way these public clouds work – are different from one another. Aviatrix abstracts the customer from having to understand all this. We deal with it so they don’t have to, but we do it in a way that leverages all the great underlying constructs that AWS, Azure and Google Cloud Platform have built — all the fiber, PoPs, VPC constructs, regions, accounts and so much more.
Most other approaches aren’t dealing with the customer problems in the same way we are. For example, the first thing enterprises are saying is, “AWS is a shared responsibility model for security, so how do we bring our next-generation firewall policies into the cloud with us?” If I’m a Palo Alto Networks customer, the first thing I want to do is …
… to deploy my VMware series next-generation firewalls into the cloud. And when I try to do that, the construct of how AWS says you can connect your VM-Series firewall within AWS often forces customers to make compromises in performance, scalability and visibility that are just untenable. We eliminate those tradeoffs through automation and orchestration of Palo Alto Firewalls. This is just one example, and there are many other examples for user access (VPN) to applications, for filtering VPC egress traffic, encrypting data in motion, transit networking for hybrid environments and so on.
CP: How do you think your technology portfolio will change in the next three years?
SM: Aviatrix will continue to evolve multicloud offerings that allow customers to easily manage, secure and operate their AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and on-premise resources as if it were all one network.
Another area we will focus on is to continue building security services into our portfolio — both our own services and with leading security vendors. Today, Aviatrix partners with companies including Palo Alto Networks (for next-gen firewall services), Splunk (log file exporting), OKTA (multifactor authentication) and many others. These product integrations make operating in the cloud easier and more secure. Look for Aviatrix to evolve these partnerships and add new security integrations, which are now more easily developed through an API.
CP: How do you expect your channel strategy to evolve over that time frame?
SM: We expect continued growth and expansion of partners across North America, and also into the EMEA and APAC regions. You’ll see us enable partners to become authorized training centers to help their own staff and customers to become multicloud knowledgeable and Aviatrix experts.
CP: What didn’t we ask that partners should know?
SM: We are a well-funded, rapidly growing company with more than 35% quarter-over-quarter growth. The market opportunity is huge.
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