Appgate emphasizes education, evangelization of techs in new Sentinel Partner Program

Appgate’s first partner program since their spinoff from Cyxtera last year is explicitly focused on empowering and rewarding solution architects and sales engineers, to make them advocates of the company’s SDP technology.

Tina Gravel  SVP of Global Channel & Alliances at Appgate

Miami-based cybersecurity vendor Appgate has launched the Appgate Sentinel Program, an incentive-based channel program that they believe will differentiate them in a crowded market. The Sentinel Program features both broad and Appgate-specific certifications, and is designed to help techs at partner firms enhance their technical skills.

Appgate is a year-old company, a spin-off from Cyxtera, which itself was formed in 2017 by integrating CenturyLink’s 57 data centres with four security companies, in a business model that combined colocation services and cybersecurity.

“We thought we had an innovative idea, but the market didn’t agree, so the cybersecurity company was spun out as Appgate,” said Tina Gravel  SVP of Global Channel & Alliances at Appgate. “Our flagship product is Appgate SDP – Software Defined Perimeter. We are all about Zero Trust Network Access, and we follow three main components: secure access, assuming no one is trusted; least privilege, getting access only to servers you need to do your job, with the rest being cloaked; and logging everything.”

Cyxtera’s model was primarily direct with a channel minority, so unsurprisingly, Appgate initially started that way as well, but the model is already evolving, with the plan to get to an all-channel model.

“We started last year with the channel accounting for 19% of overall bookings, and got to 46% at the end of the year,” Gravel said. “We are planning to go to 60% this year, with the ultimate goal being 100% channel.”

Appgate uses a broad distribution and master agent system, so in theory has access to a total universe of about 4000 partners, but the number they expect to work with closely through the partner program will be much less than that.

“Most of these will be opportunistic partners,” Gravel indicated. “There is broad interest, as agents who sold VPNs are interested in this for Work From Home. But we just need a few strategic partners – maybe 50 – and some of those will be referral partners.”

Appgate initially brought over the partner program from Cyxtera, but the new Sentinel program being announced today has a fundamentally different philosophy.

“In order to gain mindshare in a very noisy market, we are initially focusing on the technology persona, and are certifying people in Zero Trust and on Appgate,” Gravel said. “It’s like a Cisco CISSP. We expect that this program will develop a base of believers for us in the channel.”

The three-level program that came over from Cyxtera has been reduced to two levels, but Gravel said that this is just table stakes stuff, and that the educational component is the exciting part. The technical track has three certification tiers: Guard, Ranger, and Commander.

“The Ranger is the solutions architecture, and qualifying for it unlocks community access, where we have people talking with their peers,” Gravel said. “The Commander level is certified to install. It’s more like a tech-focused club they become members of. It’s not like sending a spiff to a sales rep.”

The Sales Track also has three tiers: Guard, Sentry, Guardian. They don’t have the same type of training as the technical track. However, the Sentry level is provided with a lead within 90 days of certification. Guardian members who close a sale in their first year of certification are eligible for a grand prize.

Partners whose employees achieve either of the top tiers, Commander or Guardian, will receive additional benefits including co-marketing and promotional support, invitations to the CEO Council at the Appgate Partner Summit, access to future beta programs, and other benefits.

“Our direct sales force is excited about the program, and looking forward to working with partners,” Gravel stated. “Once partners are certified, we connect them with our internal team.”