BlackBerry Cylance looking to MSP business, new products to help drive 2020 growth

It has been an eventful year for Cylance, following its acquisition by BlackBerry. May Mitchell talks with ChannelBuzz about the year coming to a close, and what to look for next year.

May Mitchell, Vice President, Marketing – Worldwide Field and Channel Marketing at BlackBerry Cylance

In February 2019, BlackBerry acquired Cylance. The acquisition led to a fair bit of executive transition. Founder and CEO Stuart McClure departed after the deal closed, and other company leaders left as well, including, on the channel front, Didi Dayton, VP of WorldWide Channels and Alliance, and Brian Stoner, Senior Director, Global Alliances. Despite all the changes, May Mitchell, Vice President, Marketing – Worldwide Field and Channel Marketing at BlackBerry Cylance emphasized that the company’s channel has done very well since the acquisition. Mitchell, who also now runs worldwide channels for the company, talked with ChannelBuzz following the ConnectWise IT Connect event in Orlando where the company was again an exhibitor.

BlackBerry acquired Cylance because of its own transition, from a struggling maker of mobile handsets to a software infrastructure company, whose security platform is increasingly focused on the Internet of Things.

“BlackBerry’s own transformation made them interested in our AI technology,” Mitchell said. “They leveraged that and our threat researchers across their UEM and their QNX solutions. Together, we are the world largest AI cybersecurity company. It reflects the convergence that is happening in the marketplace.”

While the technologies have converged, BlackBerry has maintained Cylance as a separate business unit.

“Since then we have communicated to the global channel the value of the two companies, and that the partner programs would remain separate,” Mitchell indicated. “At BlackBerry Cylance, we have our own sales motion and program budget.”

Mitchell said that because she now runs both global channels and channel marketing it is now easier to co-ordinate joint planning between channel sales and marketing.

“The field marketing team is something that I had built out over the last three years,” she said. “They are now in each region working closely with sales leaders of each region. These efforts are jointly planned and executed. This is something that these leaders asked me about doing, and it made a lot of sense.”

Mitchell said that Cylance has doubled down on enablement since the acquisition.

“That has been particularly the case in the Americas, which has been our high growth area,” she said. “We want to go deep with partners there. We have increased our focus on partner-led services, with a two and a half day training class to give partners the tools to go back to their install base or to new customers, around new revenue opportunities like our ThreatZERO services.”

Enablement is also being increased because of the release of multiple new products. These include CylanceGUARD, a 24×7 managed detection and response offering introduced in July. It leverages their existing stack, and has a 24×7 threat hunting service that leverages their core platform of protect and optics and threat researchers.

“We also just enhanced our CylanceOPTICS EDR solution with version 2.4, and on October 23, as part of our integration with BlackBerry, we announced CylancePROTECT for Mobile,” Mitchell said.  “If customers have BB UEM, they can now leverage our AI modelling with this. We will have a version for managed services in the first half of 2020.”

“These are all new products, which means more enablement resources going forward, in field training, partner -ed services and marketing tools,” Mitchell said.

The Cylance Managed Security Service Provider program, first introduced in 2016, now has over 300 partners, and Mitchell said they are looking for big things from this channel next year.

“That’s where ConnectWise comes in,” Mitchell said. “We have been attending IT Nation for three years, and integrated with the ConnectWise Automate [RMM] platform a year ago. It has been a great partnership, and we have those 300 plus MSSP partners globally due to that partnership.

“We did a lot of due diligence before deciding on ConnectWise,” Mitchell added. “We felt that they offered the best platform and the largest MSSP community. We do a lot of joint training with them.”

Mitchell also highlighted the role going forward of their Axiom technology alliance partner program that was first launched in April 2018 at RSA.

“We now have over 30 plus integrations, including SIEM providers like SIEM and LogRhythm, and CASBs like Netskope, and go to market through our common channel partners.”

Mitchell said partners should look forward to 2020.

“We had 30% year-over-year growth this year, and our renewal rate is extremely high,” she said. “We also have more solutions coming out that we think will excite partners.”

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