‘Palo Alto Networks’ partners need to adapt to changing threat dynamics’

Harpreet Bhatia, director, Channels & Strategic Alliances – India & SAARC, Palo Alto Networks

Harpreet Bhatia, Director, Channels & Strategic Alliances – India & SAARC, Palo Alto Networks shares the highlights of 2019 and what is in store for the channel in 2020

What have been the key highlights of 2019 and how will 2020 be an important year for the IT channel industry? 

In 2019, we have seen the channel community betting big on cloud services and realigning its key priorities to address opportunities in this space. The prolific preference for cloud and SaaS has created a shift in customer consumption habits for ‘everything-as-a-service’. SaaS cybersecurity offerings provide customers the ease and speed they have got accustomed to. It also allows vendors to automatically deploy updates and patches to protect against newly detected vulnerabilities. While there is rationality in migrating to cloud, there is also a wariness around putting critical information in the cloud. More businesses are seen to be leveraging containers (i.e., operating system virtualisation) for their efficiency, consistency and lower costs. However, the potential dangers of exposed and misconfigured containers will soon rear their ugly heads, leaving organisations vulnerable to targeted reconnaissance.

With the usage of proper network policies or firewalls, or both, internal resources can be prevented from being exposed to the public internet. Additionally, investing in cloud security tools can alert organisations to risks within their current cloud infrastructure. Cloud security adoption has its own set of challenges as well. Commissioned by Palo Alto Networks, Ovum’s Asia-Pacific Cloud Security Study has found that 80 per cent of large organisations view security and privacy as key challenges to cloud adoption. 2020 will also see more companies move towards a DevSecOps approach, integrating both security process and tools into the development lifecycle of new products. This will be the way forward for integrating cloud and containers successfully.

Apart from cloud, the security trends observed in 2019 which will gain momentum in 2020 are:
The adoption of SOAR solution to orchestrate and automate SOC environments for deeper understanding of threats and mount an effective response thereof, XDR solution for getting subservient threat intelligence, deciphering co-relation between attacks targeted at endpoints, network and cloud.

Understanding of threats permeating through IoT environments, increased SDWAN adoption, their impact, and mounting an effective prevention based response. Our partners need to adapt to this changing threat dynamics. They have to get geared to a world of zero trust architecture and have to get their customers onboarded on this journey. The speed and agility with which our partners respond to the fact that data is all pervasive and all data is at threat, today, will they be able to build an effective zero trust security architecture for their customers.

Top three technology trends that the channel community should be focusing on, and why?
With cyber attacks becoming more sophisticated, cyber criminals now combine multiple techniques including malware, ransomware and social engineering to compromise data. Organisations across sectors are vulnerable to cyber attacks. Technologies like blockchain, AI/ML, and big data analytics are ideal to revolutionise the way companies think about cybersecurity. Another trend being observed is the increase in cloud adoption across segments, which is leading to increased conversations around security in the cloud.

What are the top channel directions your company has set for your partners and where should they invest to be aligned with these directions?
Through 2020, we will be focusing on the following:

Short term: With the ongoing COVID-19 situation and its impact throughout the world (including India), Palo Alto Networks and our partner community have a moral and social obligation to keep our customers and our own environments safe. This is an unprecedented situation and all our customers are looking towards enabling a safe work from home environment for their employees, while attempting to maintain high employee productivity and morale. Palo Alto Networks and our partners have a huge role to play in enabling BCP (Business Continuity Plan) via a remote working environment for our customers and their employees through either our on-prem (Global Protect – secure VPN tunnel) or our cloud based (Prisma Access) secure remote access solution. We, and our channel community, are committed to help our customers tide over this tough phase and are standing with them as equal partners in this hour of need.

Medium and Long term:At the start of our financial year (August 2019) our company has set up three strategic areas of focus. Our partners can partake in any/all areas  depending on their domain knowledge/expertise and their appetite for investment.

Secure the Enterprise: Prevent attacks on the enterprise which enables organisations to embrace network transformation while consistently securing users, applications, and data, no matter where they reside. This includes the network security suite, secure SDWAN, securing IOT environments and DNS security.

Secure the Cloud: Offering the industry’s broadest security and compliance coverage—for applications, data, and the entire cloud native technology stack—throughout the development lifecycle and across multi and hybrid cloud environments. This includes cloud, SAAS application security and Cloud Access Security (SASE).

Secure the future: Security offerings for security operations teams empowering enterprises with the best-in-class detection, investigation, automation and response capabilities. This includes XDR, Threat Intel and SOAR solution offerings.


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