The company, which has moved to a channel-first model, expects that Synnex’s strength in Canada will help them grow their channel there.
Seattle-based MSSP CI Security is taking a pair of steps to improve its channel’s reach and efficiency. They have announced new enhancements to their Critical Insight Channel Partner Program. They have also announced a global distribution deal with Synnex, which will see CI Security’s Critical Insight MDR solution added to Synnex’s line card.
CI Security was originally founded as an IT consulting firm.
“Really early in the process, they realized that heavily regulated organizations like health care and SLED, had not had their MSSP problems solved,” said Colin Brissey, CI Security’s VP of Sales. “So they built out a 24/7 SOC operation, which was next-generation in that it started with an analytics staff, not a traditional SIEM, and continues to have a next-gen advanced analytics capability.”
The company differentiates itself in the MSSP marketplace by focusing on the capability of its people.
“Tech differentiation will only last a few months, because someone else will come along,” Brissey said. “We don’t emphasize technology as a differentiator. We are constantly evolving it, but our true differentiation is the way we built out our SOC from a people standpoint.”
The company, because of one of their founders’ background in the public sector, became involved with some of the post-secondary schools in the Pacific North West.
“We are part of the curriculum in these organizations, and from them, we get three-month interns and then the pick of the litter as associates,” Brissey said.
Brissey said the stream of new people is not, however, necessary to maintain their SOC staff in an industry where keeping people tends to be very difficult.
“Our retention rate is 95%,” he stated. “We are in Bremerton and Ellensburg, so they don’t have to move to Seattle, which is more expensive. We do lose some people to Amazon occasionally.”
Brissey said there is a strong trend in which the company is selling to larger and larger customers.
“Even larger organizations like small to mid-size enterprises are moving more to MSSPs because they don’t have the resources to build out their own defenses to protect their complex attack surfaces,” he said. “So we are attracting the attention of larger organizations because of our world class MDR suite, which is highly customizable, and around which many services can be wrapped. Every quarter we break our record for the largest company that we have signed.”
The new initiatives are part of a broad attempt by the company to further expand their reach.
“We have signed with a couple group purchasing organizations in the health care space, which are really more of a contract vehicle than a sales channel,” Brissey stated. “It lets us expedite the contract process. It took us about a year to get those relationships spun out.”
They are also expanding their presence in the master agent and telco agent channel.
“Telecom agents can do bigger deals, and even if they have a 5% penetration rate with our services, that’s a big win for us,” Brissey noted.
Moving into IT distribution with Synnex will further expand their reach.
“The Synnex relationship will expand our global presence,” Brissey said. “We already have global customers, because MDR is in every hemisphere now. The difference that Synnex will bring is global logistics, which we have not had before. They can also provide a lot of extra value, and having that additional firepower is important for us.”
They also expect that Synnex will strengthen their presence in the Canadian market.
“We have a great reseller in Canada in BC’s lower mainland,” Brissey indicated. “We have been actively marketing into Canada, are actively recruiting, and are attending events here. Some traction in Ottawa recently sprung up.”
The channel program changes include increasing the incents for deal registration so that there is now more of an advantage.
“A lot of partners are excited about that,” Brissey said. “There’s now a lot more marketing support. We launched a new portal with opportunities to integrate us in cobranded and experiential marketing, which is something that we didn’t have in the past.”
The changes to the channel program also reflect CI Security’s maturity as a company.
“We always had a vision of a more comprehensive program, but we knew we couldn’t start that way,” Brissey said. “We didn’t have the resources to manage all that. Our channel team is now 4x the size of last year. We really began working hard on it the last 6 months. driven by a desire to be as flexible as possible in terms of how people buy us.”
Brissey said that the channel has also been asking for them.
“Synnex came to us,” he indicated. “We didn’t chase them and say please, please sign us. Their resellers were asking for this. Telco agents have also courting us for four years.”
Brissey stressed that as the company’s channel grows, their sales strategy as a whole is becoming increasingly channel-centric.
“Our philosophy is channel first, not just to get a partner involved when it becomes necessary,” he said. “We don’t sell equipment. We need partners who can do that, and who can’t run a 24-7 operation themselves, but want to do that. If we are successful in the next year at building the channel to the degree that we want, we will likely move to channel only.”