Cybersecurity vendors spin up channel partner programs

The tempo of partnering activity in the IT security space has intensified recently, with a spate of new or expanded channel programs; more news from the week.

Cybersecurity vendors are stepping up their pursuit of managed service providers and other channel companies, with at least a half dozen vendors unveiling new or expanded partner initiatives in the past week.

The list of cybersecurity vendors with channel-related developments to report includes Armor, Avecto, Hexadite, Kaspersky Lab, McAfee and VIPRE. The product makers are tapping channel partners to expand their sales and services reach. Potential plusses for MSP partners and resellers include access to training, more favorable licensing approaches and the availability of more product options to address customers' IT security needs.

Jessica Couto, the newly appointed vice president of channel at Hexadite, a Boston-based security automation vendor, said the channel program activity among vendors is in response to changes among channel partners.

"A lot of our partners' business models are changing," she said, noting that some resellers are developing a hybrid approach in which they become more of a service provider.

Hexadite, a cybersecurity startup, this week launched its Security Automation Channel Program. The program will expand the company's existing partner network, which includes Guidepoint, Optiv, IOvations and Critical Start. Hexadite's offering, Automated Incident Response Solution, is also sold directly and via a partnership with Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

The Hexadite channel program includes deal registration and training. In addition, Hexadite will implement a partner portal during this quarter, according to Couto, who joined the company three weeks ago and has previously directed channel sales for such cybersecurity vendors as Carbon Black -- formerly Bit9 -- and Kaspersky Lab.

MSP programs

Kaspersky Lab, meanwhile, officially kicked off a new partner program for MSPs that offer, or would like to offer, security services. The program includes a separate MSP price list, monthly licensing, product and security training and certification, according to the endpoint security vendor. MSPs will also be able to select cloud or on-premises models for product deployment.

The addition of MSP-specific pricing aims to boost the speed and flexibility of licensing.

"MSPs were previously part of the public price list, but it was a difficult process for the partners to be able to get monthly pricing in a streamlined fashion," said Kevin Lozeau, director of channel marketing for North America at Kaspersky Lab, based in Moscow.

He said the updated program enables "instantaneous licensing" and lets MSP partners add and remove licenses on the fly "as the business model dictates."

VIPRE, an endpoint security vendor in Clearwater, Fla., named a new channel executive and debuted an MSP partner program. Marya Munir, VIPRE's senior director of channel marketing, was formerly Webroot's director of worldwide partner and alliance marketing. The company's new service provider program lets MSP partners pay only for the seats they use, and it provides monthly billing.

Munir said the launch of the MSP Partner Program marks the latest stage of VIPRE's channel-expansion strategy, which began earlier this year.

Also in the endpoint security space, Avecto took the wraps off a revamped channel partner program in North America. The retooled program is built on three tiers -- Platinum, Gold and Silver -- and includes technical and sales enablement, deal registration and market development funds.

Matthew Knutsen, vice president at U.K.-based Avecto, said the company seeks to scale its business through partners.

"We need to leverage the channel to effectively scale sales, service and brand awareness," he said.

Channel partnering is also the subtext behind business news coming out of cybersecurity vendors. McAfee completed its split from Intel, which purchased the company for $7.7 billion in 2010. Richard Steranka, senior vice president of global channel operations at McAfee, based in Santa Clara, Calif., said the company's newly independent status will allow for close collaboration with its channel partners.

"We are going to continue on the same course we were on, but [we] can do it at an accelerated pace [now]," he said.

He added McAfee's business is close to 100% channel-driven. 

Armor, a cloud security company in Richardson, Texas, said it will invest its newly closed $89 million round of equity financing in driving adoption of the company's managed security platform for public and hybrid cloud environments. An Amor spokesperson added that new funding will also play a key role in its channel strategy. The financing was led by ST Telemedia, which will become a joint lead shareholder with Armor's existing majority shareholder, The Stephens Group.

Training the channel

MSP partners now find themselves at the center of their customers' security challenges -- whether they are IT security specialists or not. Against that backdrop, the new cybersecurity channel initiatives emphasize partner training.

"With the security landscape advancing so rapidly, it's certainly difficult for those not focused on it to keep up with the changes," VIPRE's Munir said. "That's why a key initiative for me over the next 90 days is to strengthen our training and education programs and materials for partners."

With the security landscape advancing so rapidly, it's certainly difficult for those not focused on it to keep up with the changes.
Marya Munirsenior director of channel marketing, VIPRE

At Avecto, working with the channel is more than signing up partners; it's encouraging them to invest time and resources in getting their consultants trained, Knutsen added.

Meetings between cybersecurity vendors and partner executives are another aspect of channel support. Avecto meets with partners to establish a 12-month business plan. There are also monthly channel meetings involving the partner, the partner's assigned channel manager and the sales executive responsible for the partner's region. And Avecto's Knutsen, or a member of his team, meets quarterly with partners.

Report: Change management lacks management support

A new report from SADA Systems, a cloud consulting firm based in Los Angeles, suggested the vast majority of organizational change management projects succeed -- even without significant management involvement.

The company's survey of 300 IT professionals from large and midmarket organizations found 85% of respondents believe their organizations' change management rollout was successful. But the respondents also cited limited executive support, weak management follow-through and a lack of consensus on goals among key stakeholders as the top three problems encountered in a change management project.

Jessica Hylton, enterprise consulting manager at SADA Systems, said one possible reason for the lack of executive support is the considerable autonomy top executives give to IT departments.

"A lot of executives ... see [change management] as just technology, and not something that impacts the business," she said.

Another reason for low management involvement is the sheer number of IT initiatives underway within the typical enterprise. If an executive had to sponsor every IT project, "that would wind up being a full-time job," she said.

But Hylton added that, in her experience, the most successful change management initiatives enjoy executive sponsorship. 

Exact revamps Macola Unity Partner Program

Business software vendor Exact has updated the Macola Unity Partner Program for solution providers.

Launched this week, the Macola Unity 2.0 Partner Program introduces new incentives, as well as a Bronze partner tier to its existing Silver and Gold two-tier structure. The vendor also increased market development funds and said it remains committed to providing qualified leads to partners at all tier levels.

"The overall program is more beneficial incentive-wise," said Lisa Wise, director of channel alliances and channel development at Exact Macola.

Exact worked with its partner advisory board to develop the updated program, Wise said. Among the advisory board's suggestions was to add the Bronze tier, which provides a lower level of entry for net-new partners. She also noted that one of the key initiatives Exact is investing in for 2017 is attracting new customers and rewarding partners that do so.

While Exact doesn't disclose the number of its resellers or revenue, Alison Forsythe, managing director of Exact Macola, said the company in 2016 grew its reseller network by more than 50%. She added that Exact finished the year with 57% of its license revenue coming through partners.

This year, Exact is "going to add to that momentum [by] continuing to add to our partner ecosystem," Forsythe said. Ultimately, the company would like partners to bring in about 80% of the Exact's license revenue, with 20% coming through the vendor's direct sales organization.

As Exact looks to sign new partners, recruitment will focus on filling white space both geographically and vertically, Forsythe said.

Other news

  • Blue Prism, a robotic process automation (RPA) vendor, unveiled a Technology Alliance Program that includes partners such as Appian, Captricity, Celaton, Expert System, IBM and Minit. Also in the RPA field, WorkFusion said it has globally launched WorkFusion RPA Express, a free RPA product. The company will also offer a free education portal starting this summer, according to the company.
  • Tech Data Corp.'s Technology Solutions business has added three value-added service providers to its Avnet Cloud Marketplace. Those services providers are HotLink, a disaster-recovery-as-a-service provider; ParkMyCloud, a cloud cost optimization platform for Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure; and Zadara Storage, a storage-as-a-service provider.
  • IT management company ManageEngine integrated its ServiceDesk Plus MSP help desk software with the sales and finance apps of its parent company, Zoho Corp. The apps include Zoho CRM, Zoho Books and Zoho Invoice, with separate licensing for each app.
  • BitTitan, a cloud services enablement company, added new features to its MSPComplete platform. According to company, the bolstered platform includes business process automation, turnkey managed services, and intellectual property standardization and protection.

Market Share is a news roundup published every Friday.

Next Steps

Read about Bitdefender's partner pursuit

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