Security vendor Ziften reboots partner program to better leverage strategic Microsoft relationship

The program’s highlight is a fast track program to recruit high skill – not necessarily top tier – Microsoft partners by providing them with the Ziften program’s top tier benefits for a year.

Austin TX-based Ziften, which provides visibility and control of client devices, servers and cloud VMs, has revamped its partner program. The old program was somewhat dated and in need of a facelift to accommodate Ziften’s more mature partner ecosystem. The key driver was the growth of the Microsoft ecosystem following a major new partnership the two companies entered into last year.

Ziften has been around for a while, and has been shipping product since 2010.

“We are all about providing visibility and control, with a very holistic approach towards the term ‘endpoint,’ said Roark Pollock, Ziften’s VP of Marketing. “We also protect servers and server infrastructure, which is why we support Linux. We also treat a container just like any endpoint.”

Ziften offers three types of solutions, one around traditional endpoint detection and response, one around cloud security and visibility – which is the same app but in a different environment – and one which does operational background posture monitoring for endpoints, to assure a more secure environment.

Ziften sells through a 100 per cent channel model, and their addressable market covers pretty much the whole spectrum from the midmarket through to large enterprises.

“We have some large global partners like IBM who focus on Fortune 100 types, a subset of national partners like SHI and Insight and about 20-25 regional partners,” said Greg McCreight, Ziften’s channel chief, who has worked for the company for seven years, and recently took over his present role. “We are also very strong with MSSPs and regional managed service providers, and we have some large strategic technology partners like Fortinet, with whom we get involved in much larger enterprise deals.”

The channel program replaces one that had been in place before, but which had become dated.

“We have had a program in place for a few years, but we were an early stage company then, and it was a vanilla, one-size-fits-all program,” McCreight said. “This is a complete rebuild of the program and relaunch of the channel, which reflects the growth and maturity of the business since we went to the Zenith platform in early 2017. We began to define different market segments better. Now, our maturity and growth necessitates relaunching the program.”

McCreight’s new role is another reflection of this maturity.

“The channel chief position is itself new,” he said. It was created as part of the relaunch. Before, it was handled within the sales organization. The separate position reflects the maturity of the organization now.”

Of all the factors leading to the remake of the Active Partner Program, the most important is the new Microsoft partnership, which was announced last November.

“This has been the real driver,” McCreight said. “This global partnership with Microsoft was announced last year. Through it, we provide MacOS and Linux protection for Windows Defender-protected endpoints. This has been a massive driver for our business since we launched it. The new partner program is aligned around the Microsoft ecosystem.”

That means that the program is set up to attract top Microsoft partners who align with Ziften’s value proposition.

“The objective of the program is identifying and recruiting new partners in the Microsoft ecosystem,” McCreight said. “These would be high value-add partners who provide design and consulting services around managed security.”

Ziften’s program will provide the same kind of proactive support for Microsoft partners that it already does for Fortinet partners, as Fortinet is another key strategic partner. This support, through a fast track program known as Fast Start, is really the highlight here, providing a differentiator from the typical table stakes elements common to partner programs of established companies.

“We have built fast track programs around our technical alliances,” McCreight said. “This now includes Fortinet and Microsoft, and potentially we could add others. The Fast Start program gives top level status for a year, which means guaranteed high margin for the entire year. They also get a dedicated support team. That’s a really appealing proposition.”

McCreight said that this isn’t limited to just the top tier, or with some other qualifier, other than that their skillset has to appeal to Ziften sufficiently to be accepted into the program.

“They don’t have to be in the top tier, just a qualified or certified partner,” he said. “We’ve been rolling this out and have had a really phenomenal approach. It brings in high quality partners with really unique skill sets.”