CrowdStrike looks to new partner program to expand partner base and aid in market surge

CrowdStrike has also announced the CrowdStrike Store, which is very similar to the Salesforce AppExchange, and also extended to broaden their routes to market.

Matthew Polly, vice president of Worldwide Business Development and Channels at CrowdStrike

Artificial intelligence-based endpoint security vendor CrowdStrike has launched a new, tiered program for all their channel partners. It’s part of a focused strategy to expand their routes to market, moving to supplement the small select group of enterprise-focused partners they have worked with in the past to add more quality partners prepared to invest in them. It coincides with the opening of an additional route to market, the CrowdStrike Store, which is being launched today, to open up their platform and its petabytes of threat data to third-party developers.

“Security is not a new market, and it’s not an uncrowded market, but when CrowdStrike came along, it was absolutely ripe for disruption,” said Matthew Polly, vice president of Worldwide Business Development and Channels at CrowdStrike. “The legacy vendors have been there for many years, and their technologies have gone through evolution, but ours is revolutionary. The combination of our cloud-based platform and our single lightweight agent means that you don’t have to don’t have to do a reboot to install it, and no massive update of signature files is needed. The legacy companies can’t make that kind of change.

“We also collect 200 billion events a day in our platform,” Polly added. “When you have that much data, the baselines of what is normal become very easy to change, and this creates a network effect of the crowd in the cloud. We have just built a marketplace, the CrowdStrike store, that is being launched today, and which opens our Falcon platform broadly to third party applications. It’s almost an identical model to the Salesforce AppExchange. It will allow the petabytes of data in our cloud to be used for more use cases – that we build for and partners build for.”

Polly also emphasized CrowdStrike’s capabilities against non-malware attacks.

“We estimate that 39 per cent of all attacks are malware free – and these are not adequately defended against,” he said. “That’s our next layer – EDR [Endpoint Detection and Response] – and we can spot that anomalous behavior.”

Like most security vendors, CrowdStrike began on a direct model, because they started out as an incident response services company.

“The channel came in about two and a half years ago,” Polly said. “We didn’t start out as channel, but once we were ready for prime time we went there aggressively. We are now a channel-first company with 90 plus per cent of business going through channel partners. About 32 per cent of that is channel-led, where they bring in the customer.”

Until now, CrowdStrike’s channel has been fairly select, consisting mainly of focused security specialists like Optiv.

“When I arrived in June 2017, we had a net-margin program which was really oriented towards a select few partners, the kind of companies who could help us get into the enterprise,” Polly said. “We now want to broaden our routes to market. There are lots of parts of the market and the world not served by just the select few we have partnered with so far. So we have created a new three tier Elevate partner program, which will be focused on investing in partners who invest in CrowdStrike.

The program encompasses six different groups within the partner ecosystem: Channel, Technology Alliances, MSSPs, OEMs, CrowdStrike Platform, and Cloud Procurements. It has three tiers – Associate, Resell Focus, Resell Elite. There is a fourth classification, Partner Security Service, but it is not a tier.

“It’s a specialization, with three different tracks, Hunter, Administrator and Responder,” Polly said. “They do not provide additional benefits, but qualifying for these helps partners who sell services differentiate themselves with prospects against their competition.”

CrowdStrike telegraphed the coming of the new program a year ago.

“We transitioned to a single-tier discount-off-list program in February of last year, in order to structure a program that had different criteria and benefits, starting February 1 of this year,” Polly said. “It’s difficult to make major program changes  – both for ourselves and partners – and we wanted partners to understand there is stability here. The new program gives partners the ability to earn better benefits, with better discounts off list, and better marketing and MDF resources. We have also put together a really robust training and enablement curriculum, which can be taken either online or in-person at our events.”

The training is an essential part of qualifying for advanced status in the program.

“It is a very structured program, with modules to walk through, which was not the case before,” Polly said. “The ability to package that up into activity to gain accreditation is new as well.”

With the expansion of their routes to market, CrowdStrike thinks they can really take the market by storm.

“We think we are just on the verge here,” Polly said. “We have been doing very well in the market, but its very large and ripe for disruption, and we see an opportunity to displace the business of the legacy dinosaurs who haven’t kept pace with adversaries and how they attack.”