May 11, 2021
Cato Networks, the converged SASE provider, just updated its partner program to better support MSP partners.
The six-year-old Israeli vendor, which brings networking and security into the same cloud-native platform, announced enhancements that make its channel program more “MSP-centric,” according to channel marketing manager Niv Barzilay. Those enhancements include flexible billing, an Assured Margins Program and an upgraded partner portal.
Cato’s Niv Barzilay
Cato had already been working with MSPs, and Barzilay said they drove some of the vendor’s most significant deals. Indeed, Barzilay said an MSP can adopt the SASE platform much more quickly than other partner types can, as many MSPs have already performed MPLS migration and SD-WAN deployment.
“MSPs are kind of a natural fit to Cato, because we are selling a service,” Barzilay said. “They are used to selling services and collecting recurring revenues and used to managing the customer’s network, while other partners might need to adjust to this business model.”
However, Cato wanted to offer better deal registration and enhanced discounts to give MSPs more flexibility, according to Barzilay.
For example, the company launched the Cato Assured Margins Program, which aids partners who are fighting to win competitive deals. Historically, Cato has not offered special pricing as frequently as other vendors, according to Barzilay. He cited Cato’s lease price, which often helps partners win. However, he said certain situations – whether it be a unique geographical region or a particularly large customer – require additional discounts. But the discounts that vendors typically approve often heavily cut into the partners’ profits. The new program, which involves an internal approval cycle, aims to minimize partner risk.
“While we have very competitive discounts and gross margins on the bid to begin with, we wanted to make sure that in these highly competitive situations, partners know that if we drop the price, it’s not solely at the expense of the partner,” Barzilay said. “We’re going to make sure they have enough margins to remain profitable.”
Cato also made the billing and ordering process more flexible for MSPs and other partners with unique business models. The vendor improved its lead tracking system with a new pipeline management interface.
In addition, Cato rebuilt its partner portal, which provides certification courses, lead generation materials and use-case education.
We recently compiled a list of 20 top SD-WAN providers offering products and services via channel partners.
“Our new program updates meet partners where they are, empowering them to lead the SASE market and future-proof their business,” said Anthony D’Angelo, vice president of worldwide channel and business development.
Cato also caters to agents and resellers. They and the MSP partners sell Cato’s SASE solution, which uses a private network with more than 60 points of presence. It’s available in self-managed, fully managed and co-managed models.
Barzilay said Cato’s channel-led books grew 240% in 2020. In addition, he said partner requests grew 89% in one year. Moreover, MSPs account for a larger and larger portion of incoming partners.
Barzilay also said he sees partners moving upmarket. That includes deal registrations for Fortune 500 companies.
“[It] signals to us that our partners perceive us as a much more mature solution and that they’re ready to go upmarket with us,” Barzilay said.
Cato in 2019 announced a new program, touting fast onboarding and flexibility.
Mark Thomas serves as managing director at London-based Datrix Limited, a subsidiary of the MSP Adept Technology Group. Datrix, which provides infrastructure solutions and technical support, partners with Cato.
Datrix’ Mark Thomas
“As service providers, we’ve spent many years bridging gaps between vendors’ cap-ex pricing, and customers’ op-ex requirements,” Thomas said. “Cato’s flexible licensing and billing models closed that gap for us, letting us be more competitive in how we go to market.”
Last month Cato announced a partnership with Japanese telco KDDI, which will cover North America, Europe and Asia Pacific. The announcement represented Cato’s first team-up with a carrier. Cato has traditionally competed against service providers, but KDDI chose Cato’s converged, cloud-native SASE offering.
Cato last fall announced a $130 million funding round, raising its total investments to $332 million. Executives vowed to increase staff from 270 to 400 by this fall.
“The market is there. The solution is great and ready. It’s all about us getting in front of more customers and more partners,” CEO Shlomo Kramer said at the time.
Cato also hired a channel chief and created a SASE accreditation last year.
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