Avanan gets proactive about creating MSP channel for email security suites

The company has gotten more systematic about building out a channel, starting with MSPs, and has created a program for MSPs and MSSPs and hired Mike Lyons as global director of their MSP business.

Cloud-based email suite vendor Avanan is making a major push into the MSP channel. The company has put together a systematic strategy to significantly increase their sales though both MSP and MSSP partners. They have also announced the hiring of Mike Lyons as Global MSP/MSSP Sales Director.

Avanan is a New York City-based startup with R&D facilities in Israel, which secured their Series B funding in late 2018. At that point, they emphasized their multi-vendor security platform as their key differentiation, which let customers pick and choose security technologies from Avanan’s strategic vendor partners. Since then, they have pivoted somewhat.

“They started off as more of a CASB,” Lyons said. “Conceptually that is a great model, but it was difficult to stay engaged with the vendor partners because they would lose licenses if end users changed their supplier. The concept was a good one, but it was tough to make the model work.”

Today the focus is around a three-pronged Good-Better-Best collection of bundles, with the basic one being a Smart Phishing solution that Avanan has developed themselves.

“We now offer three bundles, Anti-phishing, Complete Malware, and Full Suite Protection,” Lyons indicated. “The latter two do have third party vendors bundled in. We have also simplified the bundles, and they include protection for collaboration tools like OneDrive, Gdrive, SharePoint, Dropbox, Box, Slack and Microsoft Teams.

The technology differentiation that Avanan emphasizes now is a patented inline protection feature.

“Since 2018, we have improved our scalability, and most importantly, we have achieved the ability to be inline in the mail flow,” Lyons said. “Last summer, we got a patent for that. We are the only cloud email security company that actually resides in the mail flow, so that we scan it before it’s delivered to the mailbox.”

Lyons said that the market for this is broad.

“It doesn’t have to be market focused,” he said. “Anyone with an Office 365 or Gsuite account needs to have their email protected.”

Out of the gate, the company had basically a direct sales model.

“Today the majority of sales are direct, but there is a a tactical plan to move more and more to channel, and the MSP is the first targeted piece of that,” Lyons indicated.

While Avanan worked with some MSP partners previously, the process was ad hoc and initiated by the channel.

Mike Lyons, Avanan’s Global MSP/MSSP Sales Director

“A few years ago, we started onboarding MSPs,” he said. “They came to us. The company didn’t have MSP experience back then, and weren’t sure how they did business differently. They had much different needs, including portal needs. So the MSPs we had didn’t push it out to as many of their clients as they might have.”

Over the last several months, multiple steps have been taken to make the process much more systematic. Bringing in Lyons, who has over 20 years in channel sales is a key part of that.

“In addition to bringing me in develop that business, we also added an MSP-focused security engineer,” he indicated.

The portal has been completely revamped to meet MSP requirements, as part of the creation of a specifically MSP/MSSP-focused program.

“We have significantly changed the portal, so that it is now truly a multi-tenant portal,” Lyons said. “It makes it easy to set up a new POC, and when the customer is ready to move to pay, they click a button, and choose one of the three bundles. We have also added single sign-on capability, and moved to monthly consumption-based billing.”

Lyons said that Avanan is casting a wide net in terms of the type of managed services partners they want to work with.

“If they are an MSP they are a partner prospect of ours,” he stated. “We have MSPs of all sizes Some have less than 200 Office 365 accounts, and some have over  20,000, and there is everywhere in between. We also have MSSP partners – the SOC as-a-service businesses We have some where they now bundle us in, not just resell us, and we are now proactively taking that to market.”

The plan this year was to get out aggressively at MSP shows, although at least for the short term, that has been impacted by the virtual shutdown of these events to contain the Wuhan coronavirus.

“Exposure is the number one thing that we need, and we had planned to do a lot of shows,” he said. “The events will be critical to us, and we are targeting those which are 100% focused on MSPs. We are also internally targeting sectors like the  finance and health care industries, which really take us seriously.”

Partnering with RMMs and PSAs is another key part of the strategy.

“We have been working on agreements, and are now working on development work there,” Lyons stated.