Trustwave continues to build out managed security services channel with new program enhancements

Trustwave is aggressively trying to build out partner skillsets as they move to more of an MSSP model, and try to build up their percentage of channel sales. A new online training system and partner portal are two tools in this effort.

Jim Ritchings, Trustwave’s senior vice president of worldwide channel sales

Chicago-based Trustwave has been undergoing massive change in the last three years. They have moved from a focus on compliance to a focus on security, to the point where they now consider themselves an MSSP. They are also moving away from a predominantly direct model, aggressively adding more channel partners and focusing on increasing channel business. To this end, they have announced both a streamlined partner portal and Trustwave Academy for Partners, a new online learning management system.

“A lot has changed at Trustwave since 2014,” said Jim Ritchings, Trustwave’s senior vice president of worldwide channel sales. Trustwave originally built its business on compliance management, helping companies be compliant, from small merchants to large organizations, and that was 70 per cent of our business then, with 30 per cent being security. That has now flip-flopped, with 75 per cent of the business now being security. That’s vulnerability management, and threat detection response, and threat management. That’s where the bulk of the budget is these days.”

The metamorphosis has been significant enough that Trustwave now defines itself as an MSSP.

“We wouldn’t have defined ourselves that way then, but as more of a hybrid product and services company,” Ritchings said. “We are still in the early days though, as we transition to a full-fledged MSSP.”

That transition also requires the addition of more trained and fully enabled partners.

“The percentage of business that we do through the channel is 30 per cent – 33 per cent in Canada,” Ritchings indicated. “That’s low and we need to improve that. We can’t improve it though until we have fully trained and enabled partners.”

Trustwave actually has a lot of partners, but they haven’t been very productive, as a group.

“Many came through our eleven acquisitions over the years,” Ritchings said. “Many of them are rooted in the technology they were selling before we acquired them. Some have not embraced the broader elements of our portfolio. I came here a year ago to marry our channel strategy to our go-to-market strategy. That involves building an effective channel program that gives partners access to our broad portfolio of managed security services. We are well on our way to building out this strong managed security services channel, but we still have several steps to go.”

The strategy has two components. One is around telcos, with Rogers being their key telco partner in Canada.

“They are our biggest partner in Canada by far, although we have four others in this category,” Ritchings noted. They white label our managed security services portfolio, with ‘Powered by Trustwave’ branding, and we use a co-selling model.”

The second component is the traditional VAR distribution channel, which the programmatic changes in the partner program are directed at.

“The goal of our program is to bring those partners fully into the managed services world, and give them access to that same portfolio,” he said. “All of this is being driven by the explosive growth in demand for managed security solutions, in a market where there is a distinct lack of skills available to do this properly.”

Both of the new enhancements are fundamentally training and enablement tools for these partners.

“The new Trustwave Partner Hub is our self-service partner portal, which has been rebranded, upgraded and retooled to align it with our new strategy,” Ritchings said. It provides easy access to marketing materials, sales information, technical support, and product documentation, to facilitate customized marketing and demand generation campaigns.

While the Partner Hub is an enhancement of something that was there before, the Trustwave Academy for Partners is new.

“It is a true full learning management system, with an onboarding curriculum for new partners, and technical sales enablement,” Ritchings said.  The video-driven courses articulate industry awareness around security and compliance issues and selling Trustwave effectively, in a formal self-paced learning environment.

Ritchings emphasized that there is still significantly more to come with both the Partner Hub and Trustwave Academy.

“With the Academy, you can expect a system of formal accreditations and certifications to be rolled out,” he said.