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IBM and Palo Alto Networks Join Forces on the Security Front

The news announced midweek last week of IBM and Palo Alto Networks partnering to platformize security offerings was one of those, “yeah, that makes sense” moments, and while this partnership will no doubt benefit Palo Alto Networks, I see IBM as also being a big winner here. Why? Because when you think “cybersecurity offerings” it is not generally IBM, as a vendor providing those services, that comes immediately to mind. That doesn’t mean that IBM doesn’t have solid chops on the security front, it’s just that IBM often is not top of mind when it comes to best-in-class security vendors. This move helps change that perception, and deservedly so, and also provides a wealth of business development opportunities for both companies. This move should also provide a solid assist to Palo Alto.

Also note that Palo Alto posted strong earnings today, but stock dipped 9% in later trading as a result of a disappointing forecast. Revitalized platformization and an alliance that brings both IBM and Palo Alto the potential of a much wider customer base is timely and attractive.

At a time when cyber threats are happening at an increasingly rapid pace and with exponentially greater sophistication, and when senior leaders across the board identify security as a top business priority, vendors are seeing much opportunity here — IBM is no exception.

IBM and Palo Alto Networks: What This Strategic Alliance Looks Like

Why IBM and Palo Alto Networks? I think this is a brilliant match, and one that benefits customers of both companies as much as the organizations themselves.

The allure for Palo Alto Networks  is, of course, IBM’s watsonx, which it will incorporate into its Cortex XSIAM, its AI-driven security operations platform for the modern SOC. For Palo Alto, I also see the ability to offer much needed security consulting services to clients and partners as a very significant part of this equation and part of the value prop for Palo Alto. Customers are reeling from the complexity involved in integrating and adoption of AI, and AI-powered security as well as the need to secure AI are top of mind for everyone today. They need help, this alliance brings that.

Some Specifics of the IBM and Palo Alto Networks Strategic Partnership

Some specifics of the IBM and Palo Alto Networks Strategic partnership include the following:

  • IBM Consulting will be a preferred MSP for both current and future Palo Alto Networks customers, providing a personalized touch at a time customers need simplicity and speed.
  • IBM and Palo Alto will establish a joint Security Operations Center which will also feature a managed SOC, which customers should find attractive.
  • In an effort to make sure customers understand the value that Palo Alto Networks can provide, the companies will jointly build a Cyber Range offering immersive experiences that should quickly demonstrate the “why this makes sense” as it relates to Palo Alto’s security products.
  • Palo Alto Networks will integrate watsox LLMs into its Cortex SIAM to deliver its Precision AI solutions, which are already embedded across the Palo Alto Networks’ portfolio.
  • Palo Alto will be IBM’s preferred cybersecurity partner across network, cloud, and SOC and the company expects to train more than 1,000 security consultants on the migration, adoption, and deployment of Palo Alto products.

IBM has already doubled down on all things cloud and AI under CEO Arvind Krishna’s leadership and will move forward by continuing to invest in data security, as well as identity and access management. The company will partner with Palo Alto Networks on SOC, DevSecOps, and threat management.

Palo Alto Networks will acquire IBM’s QRadar Software as a Service (SaaS) assets, the company’s modular security suite. Palo Alto Networks will partner with IBM to offer customers’ an easy path to migration to Cortex XSIAM, Palo’s next gen SOC platform.

Platformization? Vendor Consolidation? Yay or Nay?

One of the biggest topics of conversation at RSAC a couple of weeks ago was consolidation and platformization. Vendors are all in on consolidation, but customers, at least according to our research, aren’t there yet. Their tech stacks are filled with a variety of vendors and, regardless of the push by vendors to consolidate, they’re not yet ready to do that, for a variety reasons. Will it happen? Sure. Will it happen quickly? Not likely.

We partnered with ETR on a survey previewing practitioner sentiment in advance of RSAC. Some 321 SecOps pros were surveyed, including practitioners and C-Suite leaders. In response to the question: Over the next 12 months do you expect to increase or decrease the number of security vendors in your stack?” A whopping 51% indicated they expected to increase the number of security vendors they were using, 37% planned to stay the course for now, and only 9% were planning on decreasing. And only 6% of the sample indicated they viewed consolidation as a simplification tactic. We talked about this both before and during the RSAC event, and pretty much every vendor indicated that consolidation was happening and/or that that was their objective. What we know for sure, however, is that while vendors naturally seek consolidation, their customers aren’t there — yet.

IBM and Palo Alto Networks alliance

What’s Ahead for IBM and Palo Alto Networks?

What’s ahead for IBM and Palo Alto Networks? Faster, more efficient customer acquisition and a better suite of offerings for customers across the board. Palo Alto Networks gets the benefit of being IBM’s preferred cybersecurity partner, and IBM gets the benefit of what is arguably one of the best suite of cybersecurity offerings on the market. Both companies will benefit by bringing these combined offerings to their wide customer and prospect base and it should speed sales momentum across the board.

And while this bodes well for both companies, it’s the customers who will reap the biggest benefit here. Best-in-class cybersecurity offerings and protection, managed services and consulting to help combat the complexities here, and two well-known, well-respected vendors aligning to better serve their needs. I’m a fan.

See the full press release from IBM here.

Related coverage of interest:

Security Budgets are Growing, but So is Vendor Sprawl

RSAC Goes Beyond AI-Powered Security to Securing AI Itself

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