Open source management vendor FOSSA adds channel, channel chief and channel program

Former Cloudera channel chief Scott Andress has been named Vice President of Alliances, and is putting in place a partner program to add a channel sales component to the Go-to-Market model.

Scott Andress, Vice President of Alliances, FOSSA

FOSSA, a 2018 startup with an open source management solution that handles both compliance and security, has made a series of channel-focused announcements. While the company previously had a direct sales model, they are expanding into the channel, with systems integrator, VAR and ISV partners. They have also announced Scott Andress as Vice President of Alliances. And they are announcing their first channel program, which Andress is in the process of building out.

The problem FOSSA was created to solve reflects the fact that most code today in any piece of software is from open source, which needs to be tracked and managed effectively.

“What we do is run a scan and take an inventory of all open source packages inside an application,” Andress said. “It gives a full inventory of every piece of open source software in an application, and automates licensing and compliance. This compliance capability was the first product that the company had on their platform. We are now moving into security — identifying open source packages that have vulnerabilities in them.”

FOSSA provides functionality that most companies are not doing with either internal or external IT.

“Most companies don’t do it at all, and have no real accountability around what they are putting into their code,” Andress said. “They have no idea what’s in the code that they are releasing.” The ones that do attempt to deal with this tend to rely on manual code reviews.

“We would typically come in when a company was acquired, and the acquiring company wanted to know everything in a code base, especially if the acquired company was shipping software and patches on a daily basis,” Andress said. “If you are acquired, having malicious open source code could be a blocker to closing the acquisition. When the company first started, a lot of our business came from law firms to do assessments for clients who were acquiring. We still have this business, but the market has also expanded to companies like Uber, Motorola and Ford. who want to be more proactive about this issue.”

Andress ran channels and alliances at Hortonworks for years, and moved to Cloudera with the closing of the merger between those companies in January 2019.

“I’m more of a startup guy, and FOSSA reached out to me to build a partner ecosystem around their platform,” he said. “My role here is to build the channel from the ground up. When I came in, it was just a direct sales model. We just put up our partner page three weeks ago. It’s important to get the partner program in place, because we want to add a large vibrant ecosystem to cover all customer needs.”

Like most smaller companies, the partner base will be relatively narrow so that FOSSA can manage it effectively.

“I’d like to get the best partner in a region,” Andress said. “We just signed Hitachi to be a value-added reseller for us in Japan, which is incredible for us. We are a 59 person company. I can’t enable a huge swath of partners, but I can enable a handful who are very focused.”

Systems integrators will be a key part of the strategy.

“I’m in the process of building out a framework so the systems integrators can build a practice around FOSSA,” Andress said. “They help to validate us in the space. We expect to be co-selling with them. That includes both GSIs and regional Sis.”

Resellers are another important element.

“We have a limited direct sales team,” Andress noted. “Resellers give us the reach that we don’t have and are in places that we can’t hope to get to. That’s even more important now with COVID, where it is now much harder to put people on a plane.”

The third group of partners is ISVs, who fall into two buckets.

“The first is ones like CircleCI who we will just have integrations with,” Andress said. “The market expects that. It’s table stakes. Then you have other large strategic vendors who we would like to partner with. So the issue becomes how we could partner with them to create a market with a product integration. We are still in discussions with potential strategic partners. The more limited integrations are being done today, but the big strategic integrations take a lot longer.”

While the program now formally exists, many of its components are still being put together.

“The main focus now is getting partners working with the product,” Andress said. “As we build that up, we will build the enablement programs out.”