BitDefender enhancing channel alignment in making changes to siloed strategy

Cybersecurity vendor BitDefender has been making some low profile changes to their channel teams and organization to improve management of their large channel on both the MSP and solution provider sides.

Jason Eberhardt, Head of Global Cloud and MSP, BitDefender

LAS VEGAS – Cybersecurity vendor BitDefender has a strong presence in both the VAR and MSP markets. The company has been making refinements to its channel strategy however, which include improving the alignment between these businesses in what had previously been a siloed approach to the market. BitDefender discussed these changes, and their implications for partners, at the CompTIA ChannelCon event here, where the company has been in attendance.

BitDefender is one of the long-established players in the cybersecurity market, starting out as an anti-malware player in 2001, and expanding their portfolio over the years. Their home base is in Romania, and their global headquarters as well as their development and, engineering are still there, in the capital of Bucharest. Their main U.S. office is in Santa Clara CA, and they have Canadian offices in Toronto and Vancouver. Like many European anti-malware players who established a base in their home country, they moved overseas to tackle global markets. They have been one of the most successful of these , with over 500 million users in over 150 countries and a good presence in North America.

BitDefender has restructured its channel model used historically, moving from a regional to a global structure, while still permitting regional accommodation. They are also now working on improving the coordination between the traditional and MSP channels – a sensible step given that many traditional VARs now have a managed services practice as well.

“Historically, our channel in North America has been in three siloes: the MSP team; the local team; and the national team with big partners,” said Jason Eberhardt, Head of Global Cloud and MSP at BitDefender, who came to the company in February from Symantec, where he had been North American cloud leader. “Now, our alignment is a key. It’s all coming together.”

That has also involved significant additions to his cloud team, which is now 45 people, Eberhardt added.

“In terms of partners, globally we are at 20,000 MSPs and growing,” he said.

“The main foundation of who we are is in place, but we have brought in more strategic professionals,” Eberhardt said. “We aren’t changing the fundamentals. It’s more that we are bringing some sizzle in.”

Bill Bellano, Senior Director North America Channels, BitDefender

Bill Bellano, BitDefender’s new Senior Director North America Channels is another addition to the leadership team. He joined the company in June, with a step up from the regional channel director jobs he held at Fortinet,

“The main foundation of who we are as a company remains in place, but we have brought in more strategic professionals,” Eberhardt said. “We aren’t changing the fundamentals. It’s more that we are bringing some sizzle in.”

Bellano’s focus is on the more traditional solution provider part of the business, although the noted that a lot of the partners grouped into the local category have moved to a hybrid model and added a cloud practice.

“We have made a major investment with the sales team and the channel, which has seen a 30 per cent headcount investment increase in channel sales in the last two years,” Bellano noted.

Bellano also indicated that the national partner component has also been restructured to make it more effective.

“We have transitioned to a focused partner list of tier ones,” he said. “We work with a high percentage of the heavy hitters now, but we are revamping the messaging and upping our investment in these partners so we do more with them. There are some who are signed up with us, but who don’t do much. They need to experience what we now have to offer, and what we have added.”

Eberhardt said that BitDefender is also well positioned to add to their position in the MSP market.

“We are now more proactive,” he said. “MSPs understand the capabilities of our products, and with our enhanced Endpoint Detection and Response, they can dig deeper into security if they want to. We have an advantage as well in that we have one install onto the cloud period, not one for each application, which makes it easier to consume.”

Eberhardt said BitDefender also benefits with MSPs from tighter relations with the RMM/PSA players than most of their competition.

“We are only one of two vendors in ConnectWise’s transactional marketplace for security, for example  – us and Webroot. I believe we are a couple of years ahead in the extent of full integrations with transactional marketplaces.

“We are also about to build out a huge SOC in San Antonio,” Eberhardt added. “We have a white glove approach, where we make sure that they get fast service and don’t feel that they are on their own.”

“What we are trying to do in North America in our channel business is make it easier to do business with BitDefender,” Bellano concluded. “We are learning from the Partner Advisory Council on the MSP and cloud side, which we don’t yet have on the other side.”

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