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CP Expo Power Panel: Channel Shines During Pandemic, Security Takes Front Seat

The panel included channel leaders with AT&T, Comcast Business, Datto and Check Point Software Technologies.

Edward Gately

November 3, 2021

3 Min Read
r Panel at CPLV21

A “power panel” of top execs with AT&T, Comcast, Datto and Check Point Software Technologies shined a light on latest trends in the channel, including the increasing importance of cybersecurity.

The power panel took place during Day 2 of Channel Partners Conference & Expo. The panelists addressed the biggest market challenges, the channel partners they believe will be most successful, best practices they are observing and where they see the greatest opportunity.

Panelists included: Craig Schlagbaum, Comcast Business’ senior vice president and channel chief; Rob Rae, Datto‘s senior vice president of business development; Chris Jones, assistant vice president of channel sales at AT&T & ACC Business; and Frank Rauch, Check Point Software Technologies‘ head of worldwide channel sales.

Cybersecurity Now Front and Center

In terms of trends, Jones said the pandemic and the rise of remote work emphasized the importance of cybersecurity.

“Now you have all these endpoints that are in relatively insecure places and places that people hadn’t really thought about,” he said. “How do you secure them? And there was this big rush as we moved everything to the cloud. And now that we’re in this hybrid environment of some people working from home and some back in the office, you have a big proliferation of IoT and wireless devices. I think it’s really focusing on cybersecurity and how are you going to make sure that all of these endpoints that weren’t intended to be endpoints into a company are truly locked up and secure, and that you’re keeping out all the bad guys. I think the bad guys have had a good last 24
months of figuring out how to break into places”

In addition to security, IoT and 5G are providing increasing opportunities for partners, Jones said.

“With 5G technology, we’re seeing some really amazing wireless solutions come,” he said. “And I think the economics associated with 5G are allowing certain things that historically you needed to do with a wireline service or Wi-Fi environment, you can now start doing through 5G. And we’re seeing some really amazing solutions that are kind of integrating Wi-Fi and 5G, and they’re all being driven by customers.”

Rauch said two things are impacting cybersecurity. Those are people no longer working in offices and things are moving out of data center.

“If you’re a lot of these mid-size companies, managed services is everything,” he said. “We’re into managed security and we’re all channel.”

Agents, MSPs Come Together

Schlagbaum said an increasing number of channel businesses that didn’t offer security are now doing so. Comcast, for example, now offers managed security services via its acquisition of Masergy.

He also said agents and MSPs are increasingly working together to meet customers’ cybersecurity needs and providing an entire solution for clients.

Rae said COVID-19 was “probably one of the greatest things that happened to business.” That’s because the need for secure mobility created the “perfect spot” for MSPs.

There’s lot of opportunity for MSPs to educate SMBs on cyber resiliency, Rae said. In addition, mid-size and larger companies increasingly are turning to MSPs.

Many Switching to Recurring Revenue Model

The power panel agreed that more channel organizations are switching to a recurring revenue business model.

“We actually made that shift and it opened up a lot of this room for AT&T,” Jones said. “That residual approach is very attractive. But it is hard, moving from up front to residual.”

Rauch said Check Point‘s recurring revenue from subscription services is growing three times faster than the company’s overall revenue. He also said not that long ago, it would be crazy to think of selling security by the hour, but it’s happening now.

People get used to subscription services, Rae said.

“Even us as consumers, we’re used to now paying subscription services,” he said. “We don’t own things, we rent them. And COVID-19 accelerated that.”

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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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