Difenda pivots to channel first strategy with channel program launch and appointment of Juliana Zaremba as strategic partnerships director

Difenda is expanding its channel to bring their Difenda Shield powered by Microsoft in front of more customers, and so is looking to use the new program to selectively add quality partners.

Juliana Zaremba, strategic partnerships director, Difenda

Difenda, a Microsoft-centric security firm originally out of Toronto that has evolved into a provider of MDR and SecOps-as-a-Service, is strengthening their channel Go-to-market provider. The company has announced the launch of its channel program, as well as the appointment of Juliana Zaremba as strategic partnerships director. Zaremba was previously Senior Manager, Strategic Initiatives & Strategy at CDW Canada, where she worked with Difenda for five years. Before that, she worked at the Herjavec Group, a major Canadian solution provider which came together with Fishtech at the beginning of this year.

Difenda started out in 2008 under Paladion, a Canadian security consultancy in the Greater Toronto area.

“We were not well known, in part because we were a small Canadian company, even though we were well known among our partners and customers,” Zaremba said . “At that time, we were not hyperfocused on Microsoft either, as we are today. In 2017, we rebranded to Difenda.”

Their flagship offering, Difenda Shield powered by Microsoft, a modular SecOps-as-a-Service solution, reflects that tight Microsoft connection, in which they are a  Microsoft-first service delivery company and certified Microsoft Gold Partner. Partners can sell Difenda Shield branded that way or as a white label offering.

Difenda’s sweet spot reflects Microsoft’s in that area, typically midmarket to enterprise.

“Based on Microsoft licensing, it’s typically those customers who have made the security investment,” Zaremba said.

Zaremba’s appointment is also part of a major shift in Difenda’s corporate strategy, from being a direct sales company to a channel-led one. She said that it is all about stepping up the company’s expansion.

“We want to get security to the most customers possible,” Zaremba stated. “It’s hard to find the right team that’s passionate about security. The best way to get our capability out to the most customers is through the channel, and the conjunction of our team with these partners allows us to grow faster.” Some of Difenda’s direct sales personnel have been repositioned accordingly, as Channel Account Managers [CAMs].

There was a channel program before Zaremba joined Difenda, but it wasn’t very focused and it certainly wasn’t strong enough to support a channel-first strategy.

“What existed before could barely be called a ‘program,’” she said. “It wasn’t focused. It wasn’t structured. It wasn’t the focus of the organization around the partners that did exist.

When Zaremba joined, she said that the partners were mainly large VARs like Softchoice.

“Now we have a mix of smaller partners too,” she indicated.

The new channel program is an iteration of what was there before, based on a channel program for services partners Zaremba had created at CDW Canada.

“It is a single tier program, and we are perfectly content with this approach, although we also recognize that the world and industry changes, so the program structure might at some point,” she said. “However, this program structure allows for things to be customized, where the partner is not being put in a tier bucket. We sit down with each partner and discuss goals, their customers, and how we can jointly help them.”

The training focus is around the training and certifications that Microsoft offers around their security stack, supplemented by Difenda’s own collateral such as co-branded materials and what Zaremba called an amazing demo.

While most channel programs these days are focused on better enabling existing partners rather than recruiting new ones, Difenda is looking to expand their channel as well.

“It’s really a combination of both objectives,” Zaremba noted. “We do want to recruit additional partners, as not a lot of partners can really speak to the Microsoft security portfolio. On the other hand, we aren’t interested in a ‘spray and pray’ strategy involving huge numbers of partners.”