OEM player SecurityFirst transitioning to all-channel model for midmarket and SMB

SecurityFirst has just turned their technology into a channel-friendly product, DataKeep, which its partners will sell.

Nicholas Waddell

Rancho Santa Margarita CA-based SecurityFirst has been in business since 2002, and makes a data-centric software security solution designed to simplify data protection and complement perimeter defense. Until now, they have focused primarily on the enterprise, and with an OEM strategy. Now they have converted their technology into a branded offering for the mid-market and SMB, which will be sold entirely through channel partners.

To execute that strategy – and build their channel – SecurityFirst has named two Directors of Channel Sales, each with three decades plus of experience. Richard Vaughn was formerly Toshiba America Information Systems’ U.S. channel chief. Nicholas Waddell was most recently the Channel Sales Director for Consulting Services at Cylance, and before that, was the Healthcare Vertical Leader at Ingram Micro.

The channel product is DataKeep, which was unveiled in late September. DataKeep consists of a management console and easy-to-deploy encryption agents, which enables advanced, accelerated AES-256 encryption at scale. It protects data from the source of creation through all data storage, regardless of whether it resides on-prem, in a VM or in the cloud, and encrypts at either volume or file level. Security teams can define and log access policies by job role, while blocking privileged user access, securely encrypting data-at-rest and transparently managing encryption keys.

“Historically we addressed the enterprise space via OEMs,” Waddell said. “We saw with the DataKeep solution an opportunity of expanding visibility and awareness in the middle tier and SMB, which we were not getting to with the OEM strategy alone. We see our channel strategy as an extension of what we were doing before. We ‘productized our technology as DataKeep, and made it turnkey to be channel-sellable.”

DataKeep has single pane of glass management, strong feature functionality, and cost advantages.

“Because we have simplified the solution, and have no hardware investment, the average cost per agent is less than our competitors,” Waddell said. “We don’t want to focus just on cost, and do emphasize the features and benefits as well, but it is a very cost-efficient solution.”

Waddell said that the OEM business remains robust, and will continue to grow in the enterprise. However, he and Vaughn will recruit new VAR, MSSP and MSP partners.

“We see OEMs serving larger companies, IT VARs in the midmarket, and MSSPs and MSPs for smaller businesses,” he said. “We anticipate MSSPs working along a master MSSP model, where they deliver the security solution stack and support capability to MSPs, who don’t have the specialized security expertise to do it themselves. It’s a broad strategy which addresses every level of the food chain, but which is focused on leveraging the capabilities of each partner type.”

The idea will be to have a select channel of partners with whom SecurityFirst works with directly.

“It’s definitely ‘a few good men’ strategy, but we are looking to recruit ones from every channel segment,” Waddell said. “We are looking for them to be able to perform Level One and Level Two support – at a minimum – for the top partners.”

Richard Vaughn

“We want a very select set of partners, who have a security practice and are looking to add a missing component around a data privacy package,” Vaughn said. “Most focused security partners have had this from the application layer out, but not the application layer inwards, as we provide.”

While the key thing is the quality of partners rather than volume, Vaughn suggested that the ideal number of partners would likely come in in the 50 to 100 range.

“We do not have direct business,” he said. “It’s all through OEMs or channel partners, and moving forward, it’s all 100 per cent channel outside the enterprise.”

DataKeep is not the first product SecurityFirst has sold through the channel, but it is the first volume one.

“We have SPx SHARC, but it is very specialized and highly focused,” Waddell said. “DataKeep is a broad security stack solution  designed to appeal to a broader range of partners.”

The partner program has been designed, and will be formally announced shortly. Waddell offered a sneak peek.

“The program has two lanes, for traditional resellers and MSSPs,” he said. “Many of the features and tools of engagement are common to both, but the discount and pricing schedules are based on different metrics. The reseller is a perpetual license, and the MSSP a subscription license model.”

The reseller program is a standard three tier medal one, with Silver being for referral partners, Gold for those who carry the paper and provide Level One support, and Platinum offering Level One and Two support. Platinum partners will have a much closer relationship with SecurityFirst, including joint business planning and co-marketing. The MSSP tiering, on the other hand, is based just on monthly recurring revenue.