The cybersecurity vendor has almost entirely replaced its EMEA management team and trimmed the fat in its partner network, claims channel boss
FireEye claims it wants the channel to look at it with "fresh eyes" following the installation of an entirely new EMEA management team at the security vendor.
Jason Ellis took over as VP of global channel sales in March, after 19 years at Symantec.
He told CPI that in the past eight months FireEye has slashed its partner network in Europe by a third, expanded partner programme rebates into Europe and stopped direct deals for all but government intelligence projects.
Direct deals now only account for 15 per cent of the vendor's total revenues.
Out with the old, in with the new
"From some of the conversations I've had with partners, I think the prior management team didn't treat the channel well," Ellis said.
"Our EMEA management team has changed almost entirely. We have a new northern Europe, central Europe, and emerging markets leader as well as myself.
The channel boss claims that too many deals were going directunder the previous management, and FireEye was trying to manage too many Gold and Platinum-level partners at once.
"We've significantly cut our partner ecosystem in Europe. For instance we now have 70 gold partner in Europe, down from 96… We relegated those that weren't engaged down to lower bands or out of the programme.
"In the more streamline ecosystem we have now, we're booking more and more business through our channel on a quarterly basis. We're now adopting a much more channel-first approach.
"We've had a total refresh... I know we still have doubters in the market, but people should look at us again with fresh eyes… I think our partners would call it a black and white change."
FireEye's channel overhaul is a strategic reaction to several years of difficulty for the advanced threat protection specialist.
Once one of the hottest players in cybersecurity when it went public in 2013, the ensuing quarters were marked by its share price declining, and a raft of cost cuts in 2016.
CPI was first told of plans for "a channel reset" last year, with global sales boss Bill Robbins conceding that many FireEye partners felt "ignored and resentful."
In order to woo back disaffected channel players, Jason Ellis said that the firm's "reset" has also been designed with feedback from partners, particularly around the desire for help create more MSSPs through more subscription-based models.
Protecting partner's margins
"A lot of the rebate programs we had in other regions were not available in Europe. In July we introduced performance-related programmes where the channel in EMEA can now boost their margins by upselling our services."
"And that's a key focus for us: expanding our MSSP capability. This is what our services partners are asking for."
Ellis explained that in responding to demand from its partners, FireEye has changed which segment of the market it targets.
"I'd say that we're doing really, really well with partners who have a high expertise in security because they can look at our technology and see that they can leverage our tech to build services.
"We're doing a little bit less well with our volume partners. It's not really a focus of ours right now.
"We're absolutely focusing more on our mid-tier and enterprise services partners.
He added: "Also, in terms of protecting margins, we have a very good mechanism to back our partners when they bring an opportunity to us. So if they get into a bid scenario we will support that partner exclusively."
EMEA footprint and growth
FireEye has 15 channel reps across EMEA in France, Italy, the UK, the DACH region and the Nordics.
Ellis said enterprise alliance partners across the region include Dimension Data and Capgemini.
Despite "relegating" a third of the firm's EMEA partner ecosystem, the vendor is now looking to boost its ecosystem by another 20 per cent over the next six months.
"We're primarily looking at mid-tier, service-led, highly technical partners. Those with a services mix of roughly 40-plus per cent." Ellis added.