ConnectWise launches partner program to help partners build security practices

Longer term, the program will likely expand beyond security, but for now the goal is to help partners, with a minimum of 500 supported endpoints, develop both the technical and marketing skills to sell security effectively, without having to become MSSPs.

Jay Ryerse, VP of Cybersecurity Initiatives at ConnectWise

Business automation software provider ConnectWise has announced the launch of the ConnectWise Partner Program. While this is a formal channel program, it is specifically focused at this point around security, although that is likely to broaden out going forward. The program combines support for partners growing their security practices with specific initiatives to help them market and sell security to customers.

While ConnectWise has been around for years, and has always had a strong emphasis on communities, this is their first formal partner program.

“We have had partner resources – communities – but never a partner program,” said Jay Ryerse, VP of Cybersecurity Initiatives at ConnectWise. “The momentum behind this one started back at our Connect event this past year, when partners shared concerns around cybersecurity. This included lack of talent, how hard it is to find people, and knowhow of going to market from a marketing and sales perspective. We determined that a channel program would allow them to leverage those resources.”

The program is designed to support partners to drive growth through Partner Development Managers.

“We have created a team that is purpose-built to help MSPs have security conversations,” Ryerse said. “We have over 40 partner development managers. On my team alone I have 6 CSSPS, several CISMs, and 200 years of enterprise security experience. The total team by the end of this quarter will be 47 people. We have been acquiring these experts over the past several years, particularly through our acquisitions.”

The experts will act as a resource to assist partners with both technical and business issues involving security.

“It’s a nice cross between enablement and education,” Ryerse said. “We have to provide education to get them on their journey, while giving them the marketing and sales enablement to build out a cybersecurity practice. We equate this to creating muscle memory, so as we go along, we won’t have to reteach them things, and can instead get into more advanced things, like hosting webinars.”

Ryerse said that the program is tied to the certified training and educational programs ConnectWise has done.

“We complement this with our marketing support, including helping them hold the events,” he indicated. “We provide the engineering when necessary and even the support of security architects for the biggest opportunities. Security is a way for partners to target larger opportunities.”

The program is a single tiered one, designed for both ConnectWise’s traditional MSP partners and the TSPs [Technology Service Partners] they have also acquired, which are a variety of businesses that plug into a client’s networks, and deliver some kind of technology as-a-service, including office dealers, VoIP providers and cloud providers.

“Unlike the precious metals tiering approach, we feel every partner will have to go through the security journey at some point, from protecting their own house to expanding into advanced services,” Ryerse said. “So we think everyone will come through the same core security journey.”

The initial rollout of the partner program does have some minimum qualifications required.

“The initial rollout of the partner program has some minimum qualifications to enter – a minimum of 500 supported endpoints,” Ryerse said. “We will ask their teams to take certified training, and to do marketing reviews.”

Ultimately the plan is to reduce the threshold needed to enter the program.

“At some point, we will lower the barrier of entry to support a greater number of partners in the program,” Ryerse noted.

“There is no fee to join the program, but we do ask they commit to a minimum spend of $600 a month on security products,” Ryerse indicated. “We give them licenses for internal use of all our security products. They also get access to a marketing concierge, and a portal designed to push out to clients. We also provide MDF, and additional certifications to drive knowledge they need to be successful.”

The program’s objective will be to help partners accelerate their security practices as quickly as possible.

“We don’t believe cybersecurity is just a one and done, and will work to lead partners to established and profitable best practices,” Ryerse said. “We believe cybersecurity will represent 50% of their revenue by the end of 2022.”

Ryerse also indicated the goal isn’t to try and make MSPs MSSPs.

“Its more like our MSP+ cybersecurity framework, which is in between them,” he said. “It’s an MSP who delivers essential tech services plus the cybersecurity necessary for security. You can be an MSP+ without becoming Dell SecureWorks.”

ConnectWise also hopes the partner program will attract new partners who are not working with ConnectWise today.

“This isn’t just for existing partners buying security from us,” Ryerse said. “If you aren’t sure where to start with security, ConnectWise has programs and education to help you get started on that journey.”

Longer term, the plan is to grow the program beyond security.

“We do expect it will expand beyond that into other offerings,” he said. “It made sense to start there because it is an in-demand area and we had infrastructure in place from recent acquisitions. But we are always looking to help our community in powerful ways.”