OPAQ brings first channel chief on board as they focus channel strategy around service providers and MSPs

Lynn Tinney takes the SVP of Channels role at OPAQ, as the company transitions its all-channel model to focus on service providers and MSPs, who they think get the best value from the platform and services they offer.

Lynn D. Tinney, OPAQ’s Senior Vice President of Channels

OPAQ, which goes to market through a 100 per cent channel model, has hired their first channel chief. Lynn D. Tinney is now OPAQ’s Senior Vice President of Channels. She has had significant channel leadership roles, principally at the North America level, for multiple networking companies. Cisco was her longest stint, at six years, but she has also been at Riverbed and Enterasys, and was VP of Channel Sales at Siemens for an acquired wireless technology, Chantry Networks. Most recently, she was briefly VP of Partners, North America, at CA Technologies, whose pending acquisition by Broadcom was recently announced.

Herndon VA-based OPAQ, which came out of stealth a year ago, makes a cloud-based integrated security-as-a-service platform targeted at the mid-market. They had focused both on  organizations that want to manage networks, apps and security together as a single integrated service, rather than as a distributed IT management structure as well as managed service providers, although now have a clear focus on the latter group.

Tinney said that because OPAQ’s platform hosts a suite of services, some people wrongly conclude that that they are an MSP.

“We have a suite of solutions that enable MSPs, on top of a very strong infrastructure, but we are not an MSP ourselves,” Tinney said. “We have end user customers, but they came through companies that we acquired, and not through our model itself. Our focus is on providing partners with the services that they sell to their customers.”

Service providers, MSSPs and MSPs were always a logical target for OPAQ’s platform and offerings, but they were not the sole focus. That has now changed, Tinney said, which is why she was brought on board to drive that newly-focused channel strategy.

“The channel has appeared on a couple of fronts before now, but where we can provide the most value is at that infrastructure, foundational level for service providers,” she stated, “We can bring real value to the midmarket, but we don’t want to be the one going to the end user. Our automation is more valuable to the service provider and that managed services model. It’s time for us to totally commit to that model. That’s a maturing of where we are as a company, and that’s why I was brought in. I understand how these channel elements work.”

While OPAQ is now foursquare behind a service provider/MSP strategy, they aren’t looking to sign up enormous numbers of partners, unlike some vendors who provide offerings to this market.

“We are now at 24 partners, all at different levels of productivity,” Tinney said. “We think that 30 partners is a solid number. Ideally, they will have solutions that can sit on top of us, although we understand generally where they are in their maturity level and what they need from us. I’m looking at what this particular spectrum of partners needs, to figure out where they are at and their commitment level, to assess how we can serve them.”

While a partner program is already in place, Tinney said that it really doesn’t adequately differentiate between partners.

“The work to be done on the immediate front is doing something about the fact that all partners now are addressed the same way, which makes it too vanilla,” she said. “Our partners are in different buckets and we approach them as if they are all the same.  There is a tiering piece in the program today, where as you increase capacity requirements and support new customers, the discounts do increase. But telco-like players are less interested in the infrastructure value, and there are also niches around solutions like health care we need to support. The program will shift to what we see supporting the right business models. It’s all on the drawing board.”

The goal is to get the program remade at some point in the first half of calendar 2019, Tinney said.

“We will make sure we ask partners where they want to be on that spectrum with us,” she added. “You will never find success with partners if you are not mutually relevant, so we will do legwork determining how successful we think they will be. We would rather do more with fewer, committed partners.”

OPAQ sells through partners into the Canadian market, but don’t have any who are headquartered there.

“We have some MSSPs who serve all of North America, but none are Canada-based,” Tinney indicated. “However, we have a strong list of partners we are vetting now and some from Canada are on that list.”

Tinney wants focused partners who think they can align well with OPAQ to check them out.

“We are encouraging MSPs and MSSPs to take a look at us, especially in Canada,” she said. “We are not an MSSP but do deliver a significant value to them. At this early stage, now is the time to raise their hand.”