Patricia Murphy

Doug Woodburn
clock • 11 min read
Patricia Murphy

Name: Patricia Murphy

Role: Vice president EMEA & LATAM ecosystems, strategic alliances and partners, Palo Alto Networks

Spirit animal: Tigress

Walk-on song: Golden (Jill Scott)

How would you summarise your company's channel philosophy?

Extensive. Our partners are valued members of our global sales teams. And, we empower them to deliver THE most comprehensive cybersecurity portfolio to protect the planet's digital way of life.

Collaborative. Together, we are driving disruption in the market as the world's cybersecurity leader. It is world-class and helps customers achieve better security outcomes.

Future-forward. Palo Alto Networks continually invests in developing and evolving our Ecosystem. Our partners are the heart of our GTM strategy, and our ability to scale and grow in the future.

We partner with leading cybersecurity, consulting, and cloud providers: Accenture, Alibaba, Amazon Web Services, Deloitte, Google, Infosys, Microsoft, Okta, Oracle, Proofpoint, PwC, Tanium, and VMware.

Tell us about your company's partner programme in 100 words or fewer…

Our NextWave Partner Program, the cornerstone of our channel resell strategy, has three key global components:

1.           Performance: Annual bookings.

2.           Capabilities: Accredited and certified individuals.

3.           Engagement: Contract, business plan, support offerings, and not-for-resale investment.

In our 10th consecutive year, NextWave is award-winning and CRN 5-star rated.  It has contributed significantly to our year-over-year growth, particularly over the past four years. We have 18,000 partner engineers holding over 40,000 Palo Alto Networks technical certifications. 7,500 partner-led new customer logos in FY21, as well as over 800 partners that doubled their bookings in FY21. 

How many partners do you work with in EMEA?

Palo Alto Networks NextWave partner programme includes approximately 6,500 partners who help our customers around the world succeed with the company's technologies.

All of these members of our NextWave programme with accreditations, certifications, and specializations.

These are partners (service providers, CSPs, GSIs, and MSSPs) who align with the market and help our customers accelerate their transition to the cloud especially given the new hybrid workforce and hybrid cloud context.

As I mentioned, in FY'21, over 800 of our partners grew their business by greater than 100% through Palo Alto Networks and the NextWave programme.

Are you looking either to expand or reduce that? If so, what partner profile/geography does this apply to?

We consistently review our partners and partner strategy to ensure that we have the right expertise in our ecosystem. And that customers can find effective partners that understand their market and their business. Ones that can deliver the outcomes they require from the technology in the best way for their business.

We see partnerships as a joint investment driving innovation and disruption in the market. So, we focus on those partners that share our vision and want to invest with us along this journey.

Have you made any major changes to your partner programme recently, or are you about to?

We are planning Nextwave 4.0. We will be incorporating more services into our overall strategy. For example, we will offer an MSSP Program Addendum; a services-only addendum (services only influence fee); continued tiering of partners across diamond, platinum, and innovator; and a robust security capabilities programme including three new certifications across Prisma SASE, Prisma Cloud, Cortex XDR/XSOAR. 

We are planning Nextwave 4.0. We will be incorporating more services into our overall strategy. For example, we will offer an MSSP Program Addendum

As we continue to evolve our programme, we constantly seek input from our ecosystem partners to ensure that we enhance the programme over time with their needs in mind. The dialogue is a core to our mutual success.

Our partners know their value is in developing specialisations and new services to help customers through their security journey. And our programme is built to help them do so. As customers invest in a more comprehensive security platform approach, away from disconnected point solutions, they need trusted partners who can support them across our portfolio. It's a win for the end-user because their experience and security posture improves, it's a win for partners because there are more opportunities and more profitability, and it's a win for Palo Alto Networks because it allows us to scale. As we introduce new technologies, we can bring them to market quickly through our partner base.

Describe your perfect partner?

A partner that is perfectly aligned with Palo Alto Networks through the entirety of the customer journey, from philosophy and vision, to ongoing successful customer outcomes. We look for partners that can challenge and disrupt, consistently add value to our joint customers and enhance all stakeholders' business through their expertise.

Customers want a trusted network of technology and security providers to help them respond to and stay ahead of threats. We like having partners who have an opinion about security and doing it well. That's ultimately what has made Palo Alto Networks the partner programme of choice.

Looking across your EMEA channel base, do your channel partners tend to display different traits, or work in different ways, from country to country?

As I look across our theatre, EMEA and LATAM, we have a significantly diverse set of markets spanning East & West Europe, Middle East, Africa, & LATAM which drive specific requirements from our customers (relating to compliance, data protection such as GDPR, EU regulation, and cybersecurity legislation). That means are ecosystem is also diverse. Our partners help us meet evolving requirements, especially within the public sector across various governments and states. The strength of our ecosystem is having partners in a country or a region that can respond to these diverse requirements.

In which areas would you most like to see your partners invest over the next 12 months?

The cybersecurity skills shortage is real - compounded by increasing attacks and bad actors.

Having the capability to successfully assist customers' digital transformations securely and cost-effectively and delivering those through service options is key. Alongside that, with challenges on realising true value and ROI for customers, consolidation of disparate technologies into integrated and automated solutions will be hugely beneficial.  We are working with our partners to continue to develop their skills and services across the Palo Alto Networks platforms to deliver the most operationally-efficient and economically-viable approach.

The number of cyber threats is growing, getting faster, and more elaborate, and adversaries are using AI to power their exploits. To keep up with the pace of threats, customers are embracing automation in their security operations and employ AI-powered threat detection and security solutions to identify and combat these next-gen cyber threats. There is no level of investment that will get them to zero risk, but how they invest in equipping their organisation to innovate, interact, and transact securely will pay dividends in how they can detect, respond and recover from a cyber incident.

Looking forward, we are continuing to invest in service activation, and joint investment in developing new differentiated services we GTM with together to drive market disruption and a unique value proposition.  Coverage and scale will come from our ability to leverage the strengths of each of our partners to address different market needs.

How do you see vendor channel programmes and channel engagement models evolving over the next few years?

We need a shift in mindset where the ecosystem becomes a true extension of our organisation - driving differentiation and scale into the market.  This implies that we must improve and evolve our engagement model. We need to adapt to the type of partners we are working with, ensuring alignment with our priorities to accompany our customers' transformation to the cloud.  As stated before, the NextWave platform services-driven strategy will take precedence. Therefore, our engagement model will need to respond to the required innovation around the  ZTNA 2.0 strategy focused on the strength of our integrated platform across our three main pillars SASE, Prisma Cloud and Soc Automation (Cortex).

What are your priorities for the next 12 months?

We have three strategic pillars that will drive disruption and accelerated growth in EMEA and LATAM. 

a.           First, drive scalable growth. This can only happen with a robust set of ecosystem partners that embrace our vision and strategy and execute with us in all markets to drive joint outcomes.

b.           Second, simplify and empower. We need to be much easier to do business with.

c.           Third, people and trust. We must help our partners attract the best talent in the market to serve our customers.

With that in mind, given the recent rapid growth of the worldwide cybersecurity market, we see significant opportunities to partner globally and increase our customers' security posture.

Do you feel your company is doing enough to cater for non-resale partners, including those that sell technology as a managed service, ISVs or agents?

Great question. We consider all routes to market as well as all of the ways that customers wish to transact technology purchases. As well as how they want to implement and operationalise.

The success of our customers is the most pivotal point for our partners and Palo Alto Networks. So, ensuring that we can jointly meet their needs on the technology lifecycle is equally pivotal. Working with service providers/MSPs and GSIs, and investing in relationships with the hyperscale cloud providers are both priority areas for Palo Alto Networks.

We recognise that we must increase our investment in non-resell partners, in alignment with our overall strategy to help accelerate our customers' move to the cloud and the significant transformation underway.  In order to do this, we must enhance and expand our partnerships across GSI, SP, CSP MSSP in addition to our VAR and Distribution trusted partners that remain very important to us.

Is direct-channel conflict ever an issue in your partner ecosystem, and if so how do you mitigate that?

Those of us that have been working in this industry long enough recognise that you will always have a bit of conflict in the channel. You manage it properly by embracing a bit of healthy tension to drive increased creativity and enhanced focus on driving customer outcomes.

Values play a key part in how we manage our channel, That means continuing to disrupt the market, incorporating the very highest level of integrity and inclusion in all our interactions, driving execution through enhanced collaboration, and insisting on transparent, honest communication.

Effective partnerships are built on trust. My golden rule!             

Name one trait you prize highly in partners; and one you deplore?

I prize innovation. It is very high on my list! As well as keeping the customer at the centre of everything they do.

And, In general, I avoid spending energy on topics that may "deplore."  We should be leveraging each other's strengths while accepting each other's shortcomings…

How do you feel your company's margin proposition stacks up against your peers?

I believe that we must help all our partners be profitable doing business with Palo Alto Networks, and therefore our programmes must reflect this.  We will continue to incorporate feedback from the field and make sure our programmes evolve to drive profitability for our partners. 

Historically, the security industry has thrown point products at each new issue, and this has become an overwhelming problem for customers who now depend on disparate tools from multiple vendors that can create security blind spots and leave them vulnerable. 

Organisations that will be most successful will leverage a platform approach that brings into balance a trusted ecosystem of partners and solutions - network, endpoint, cloud, application, IoT, and identity that many organisations rely on for protection. That's the platform that Palo Alto Networks brings to the table for our partners and customers, and we will continue to enhance and scale.

If you could wave a magic wand and change one aspect of your channel performance or strategy overnight, what would it be?

Drive better market coverage across all RTMs through leveraging our ecosystem more effectively in EMEA and LATAM.

What's the most challenging aspect of being a channel leader?

Solving really hard business problems. 

I absolutely love what I do, and thrive on being challenged. I like to consider myself somewhat "fearless." I am deeply committed to my partners and customers as we all fight against cyber-criminals every single day.  Honestly, I see being challenged as the true advantage of what I do.

Tell us something about yourself most people won't know

I am a passionate gardener and love spending most of my time on vacation out in the sun tending to my garden.

What is your spirit animal?

Tigress. Tigers stand for strength, power, courage, and ambition. The animal represents a symbolic release of fears and standing for truth, justice, and integrity.

Tigers stand for strength, power, courage, and ambition. The animal represents a symbolic release of fears and standing for truth, justice, and integrity.

What would be your walk-on song, and why?

"Golden", by Jill Scott. Jill Scott is an amazing female artist and poet who articulates incredibly important messaging through her work.

This is a song about owning your own "freedom." We all have a choice to live our lives based on our convictions in what we believe is important and "golden". Jill began her career as a "spoken-word" artist and has risen to fame collaborating with so many impressive artists. 


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