BlackStratus begins building out channel for SMB SIEM service with Autotask partners

BlackStratus is close to signing up its first 100 MSP partners for its SIEM-as-a-service offering, and has a plan in place to acquire thousands of partners over the next few years.

Dale Cline BlackStratus

Dale Cline, BlackStratus’ CEO

New Jersey-based BlackStratus, which launched its SMB-focused CYBERShark SIEM service in April, has added its first batch of MSP partners. These come mostly from BlackStratus’ partnership with Autotask, and represent the beginning of a road map designed to have a channel of many thousands of partners in several years.

BlackStratus, which was known as netForensics until a 2012 rebranding, built up its business with a SIEM solution for larger companies.

“We’ve been selling into the enterprise market – Fortune 2000 businesses – for years,” said Dale Cline, BlackStratus’ CEO. “We also sold to service providers who served larger clients, and were real successful in that market.”

Cline indicated that while they, like the SIEM market as a whole, has been focused on larger enterprises, with CYBERshark, they saw a market opportunity. Phil Rugani, BlackStratus’ Chief Revenue Officer, and Oracle’s original channel chief, has responsibility for the CYBERshark program.

“Breaches are devastating to the SMB market, but managed service offerings for this have been very ad hoc,” Cline said. “The technology was not scaleable to address small businesses in an effective way, and the smaller businesses didn’t have the security professionals on staff to make use of the SIEM capabilities.”

Cline said CYBERshark is exactly the same technology as their enterprise offering, at a much lower price.

“The only difference is that it’s a SaaS offering, which came on the scene for the first time with CYBERshark,” he said. “With our large customers, our technology is a back end for those services. They would take our platform and deploy it in their infrastructure.”

Cline indicated that CYBERShark removes the need to be security-aware from the partner.

“Maybe 30-40 per cent of MSPs even know what a SIEM is, but we aren’t marketing a SIEM,” he said. “We are marketing a service that identifies problems, and we provide that market, that capability. The partner has a portal view, and the most important aspect of it is the trouble ticket. It’s presented in simple English so any one can execute them. It means the MSP won’t need to have a dedicated security guy to handle the tickets. That’s what’s unique about us. The partners don’t have to put any money, effort or time into training. We also don’t require a multi-year agreement from them.”

Cline said that MSPs to whom they explain CYBERshark’s value proposition get it immediately.

“Our close rate from MSPs who see the product is 87 per cent,” he said. “That’s an insane rate of conversion.”

As of July 20, 97 partners have been signed up, but Cline emphasized that this is just the tip of the iceberg. Their largest inroads have come from among Autotask’s 7000-strong channel.

“We kicked off 75 days ago, and the key element was a partnership with Autotask, which was being formed as we went to launch, and which was announced at the end of June, when we did our first webinar with them,” he said. “So we didn’t really start marketing to that community till the end of June.

“We’ve had a very good response from the Autotask community. The in-bound and in-process applications since we did the webinar are almost all Autotask partners. We will be having our big launch with them in January, which is when their big show takes place.”

They have also been talking with other RMM players.

“We are engaged in detailed conservations with several of the other RMMs out there,” Cline said.

Distribution may also be on its way.

“We did not put distribution on the table immediately, but distribution came to us,” Cline stated. “We are having discussions with a major distributor right now.”

They have also signed their first OEM deal, where CYBERshark is embedded in another security company’s offering. That is soon to be announced.

“Our expectation is three to five years out, we will have 7000 to 10000 partners,” Cline said. “Scale isn’t an issue, because our model was built for scale. Partner competency isn’t an issue because we provide that. We are excited about the first 100 partners because we can extrapolate from that. We expect to have 500 or 600 by the end of the year, and will also have some exciting OEM agreements later in the year as well.”

Canada has plenty of room for growth. While MSP partners in Canada have been signed up, presence in Canada is underrepresented compared to the U.S.

“We are just dipping our toe in in Canada,” Cline said. “The requirements for us there don’t vary very much, so we expect to grow significantly.”