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Steranka Takes the Channel Reins at Intel Security

Richard Steranka

A day into his job as the global channel leader for Intel Security, Richard Steranka says he sees the biggest opportunities for channel growth in the midmarket and SMB spaces, even as aggressive investment in datacenter solution-based enterprise partners will continue.

"Even as of yesterday, I had an opportunity to talk with all of the sales leaders across the globe and the current channel team," Steranka said in an interview Tuesday. "It's pretty clear that we've made great strides in the enterprise space. The midmarket and SMB have seen high growth but [we] feel there's still further potential there for our partner community."

Steranka was named to the post on Monday, and came to the job from a similar role as vice president of the worldwide partner organization at Avaya. Steranka also held numerous channel roles in nearly 20 years at Cisco.

For Intel Security, which rebranded itself from McAfee in January, Steranka's appointment marks the end of a six-month period without a worldwide channel leader. The job's former occupant, Gavin Struthers, took a role as president of Intel Security's Asia Pacific sales in March.

Identifying stability as a key ingredient of a successful channel program, Steranka said that he plans to continue with the channel program updates rolled out in two phases, the first in October 2014 and the second in July of this year. Last October, the company relaunched the McAfee SecurityAlliance Program as the Intel Security Partner Program, which changed the focus from product competencies to solution competencies, and introduced a Managed Services Specialization and an Authorized Support Specialization. Last month, Lisa Matherly, head of Worldwide Partner Programs, Marketing and Operations at Intel Security, unveiled a second phase of changes focused on improving partner profitability and reducing conflict among partners for deals.

Steranka said he will continue to work with Struthers and Matherly, who remains in her role, to continue rolling out those changes.

"[The changes] tend to recognize partners that were making the investments back in Intel Security. That program continues. But we'll continue with [Gavin's] efforts in rolling out the future changes of the program," said Steranka, adding that he's eager to get feedback in the next few weeks from partners about what they like so far and where they would like to see future changes.

As part of the program updates, Intel Security changed the old Elite, Premier and Associate partner level names to the more straightforward Platinum, Gold and Silver. Of Intel Security's 30,000 registered partners and 15,000 active partners worldwide, 250 are Platinum and 760 are Gold.

Asked if that was the right mix moving forward, Steranka said he'll be looking at it. "I think it's probably just too early for me to answer that. The recognition right now is based on individual specializations [and that] is the right way to do it. How partners have been grandfathered in or allowed to move into those levels, that's what I'm not completely up to speed on."

Another factor in his analysis will be the way that the security market is shifting.

"The one thing I do know is the security space in terms of channel partner coverage, how they define themselves, is changing from the pure-play security partner to those where it's the full datacenter offerings -- compute, storage, virtualization and, most importantly, securing all of that. That is a set of partners that we're very interested in working with. Then we also have, clearly, the move to those that want to be in the managed-services business, cloud business and selling complete turnkey services to customers," he said. "As I look to how to cover this market in the most effective way possible, one of the things will be how the program aligns partners to do that, rewards them, and if we can increase our number of medaled partners as a result, then that's acceptable."

Posted by Scott Bekker on August 25, 2015


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