Heath Thompson, who joined Quest a month ago, takes over a new Information Systems Management business unit that consolidates three of the five former ones, and emphasizes that the channel will play a more significant role as Quest drives forward in its new strategy.
Since Quest Software appointed Patrick Nichols as CEO in April 2020, the company has embarked on a mission to re-invent itself. Most recently, that involved a fundamental restructuring of the business, with three separate business units being consolidated into one, and Heath Thompson being brought in from the outside to lead it and drive strategy. At the same time, Bhagwat Swaroop was also appointed to lead to One Identity business, another of the business units.
“When I talked with Patrick, he made his vision really clear about evolving and expanding the portfolio,” said Thompson, whose previous senior roles in an almost 30 year-long career includes stints at AudioEye, SANS Institute, Forcepoint, IBM, and Internet Security Systems. “The business unit he’s asking me to lead – Information Systems Management [ISM] – brings together a number of areas of the Quest portfolio that has operated separately in the past.”
Previously, Quest had five separate business units. Two of them, One Identity and Platform Management, are not affected by the changes, but the other three have been consolidated into ISM. They are: information management, which contains tools for developers and IT operations staff: data protection; and unified endpoint management, managing assets for an increasingly distributed workforce
“The remote workforce has driven a need for IT teams to get better management, and unified endpoint asset is a renewed and active focus,” Thompson said. “We are also trying to address the change in the regulatory landscape that has produced GDPR and CCPA with this new business unit.”
Quest has been around since the 1980s and both before and after its acquisition and quick spinoff by Dell in the last decade, has had a reputation of having some very good products like Toad and Foglight, within the context of a sprawling portfolio that was not optimally balanced nor integrated. Thompson said that Quest’s strategy now stems from Nichols’s understanding that more cohesion and synergy is required.
“There was a need for changes in terms of organization and in terms of vision,” he stated. “This will allow us to create a unifying vision around assets that weren’t as cohesive as they could have been. This theme also runs through a lot of the portfolio, not just ISM. It is particularly tied in with One Identity around data governance, and tying into that data lifecycle. That unifying vision is what really attracted me to the company.”
Thompson noted that another major plus is that the company’s customer base has stuck with the company as it wandered along its path during the last decade.
“The customer base is incredibly impressive,” he said. “There is a high degree of customer loyalty and retention, which is a great foundation to build a vision on.”
Thompson, who has been on the job a month, said that the company is aggressively working on driving new synergies within the business.
“Patrick and the team are all working hard to mobilize the business and kick the new vision into gear,” he said. “We see enormous potential for synergies on the data side, with the information management and data protection portfolio, and a set of lifecycle tools around data. We will grow this portion of the portfolio. We are very committed to it. The other side is the need to address compliance and privacy with asset management, reflecting the ‘opsification’ of everything in IT.”
The role the channel will play in driving this is critical. Thompson acknowledged that Quest’s channel strategy has varied considerably in the past, with some products being 100% channel, others being almost all direct, and others somewhere in between.
“It depends on the area,” he said. “In some areas, we have very high channel concentration. In other areas, it’s channel fulfilled, and in some, it’s direct. I think the channel plays an incredibly critical role in the future of the business unit. The problems is addresses are the domains of many of the integrators and classic VARs – getting customers from where they have been to where they want to be. We have a portfolio that provides a good rich environment. The channel, as well as strategic alliances, will be a big part of Quest’s future.”
Similarly, Quest’s relationships with strategic vendor partners have been all over the map, much the same as channel, and Thompson said that’s another thing that has to change.
“Another reason Patrick brought this business unit together is to provide focus,” he indicated. “The old Quest didn’t have it. A stronger focus on alliance partnerships has been needed. Some parts of the business unit had very strong alliance partnerships. In other areas, they were weaker. There is a huge opportunity for more alliance partners.”
So how will all of these changes roll out?
“What I’m looking to do right now is understand what parts of portfolio we place our bets on, and to determine what the gaps are and how we fill them, organically and inorganically,” Thompson said. “The first step is to set the framework for what we do in the Business Unit. We have a very strong cadence of product releases coming out, with a strong focus on the hybrid environment.”
Thompson noted that while the distributed workforce on account of COVID brings problems of its own, it has its advantages in doing this kind of assessment of the business.
“The isolated environment made it possible to treat the business very uniformly,” he said. “It has made it easier in some ways to touch everyone in a uniform way. Usually when you are onboarding, you spend a lot of time flying around and meeting people, and that’s a superior way of doing things, but no ones doing it right now. That has made it a leveling aspect. I can also meet more customers and partners this way – so in that sense its good.”
In closing, Thompson stressed that the channel will be playing a more important role within ISM.
“I want to emphasize the importance of the channel going forward,” he said. “We will be doing some new things as well as continuing some current things.”