Sysdig goes all-in on channel in major shift to Go-to-Market model

Sysdig is transitioning from a direct model to a hybrid but channel-first one, which will see all sales outside the Global 500, about 90% of their business, go through partners.

Keith Joseph, Vice President Worldwide Channels and Corporate Sales at Sysdig

Sysdig, which provides unified container and cloud security, has launched a major change in its Go-to-Market strategy. The company had sold direct for most of its lifetime since its founding in 2013, with an early channel initiative in 2013 being unsuccessful. Now, the company believes that the stars are aligned to make the channel the major driving force in their business. Accordingly, they have laid down a channel-first model, which means in this case that all sales outside the Global 500 will transact through channel partners. Sales within the Global 500 can be direct or channel, depending on customer preference.
Sysdig started out in 2013 doing cloud monitoring, but have since added to that functionality significantly.

“Once we were just cloud monitoring, but now we provide full cloud and container security where we monitor and secure workloads,” said Keith Joseph, Vice President Worldwide Channels and Corporate Sales at Sysdig. “We give deep visibility and security around the workloads.”

“We have been shifting to security for about three years,” said Janet Matsuda, Sysdig’s Chief Marketing Officer. “In the last two years, we have shifted to cover security teams learning more about cloud, and where the security team, not just the DevOps team is involved. But we also now have a full range of cloud security, and there DevOps appreciate that we have a single tool that can do both security and monitoring.”

Joseph said that Sysdig sells to pretty much all parts of the market.

“It’s across the stack,” he said. “We do well in the enterprise, where Goldman Sachs is one of our larger customers. But we do extraordinarily well in the 2500 seats and below space too. Historically, we have done well in the tech sector and finserv, but now we are doing well in all verticals.”

Sysdig sold direct exclusively until 2018, when they made their first experiment with a channel. It was not successful.

“At that time, the company brought in a few channel sellers,” Joseph said. “It was the right idea at the wrong time. Our sales wasn’t ready. The solution wasn’t ready for the channel. The channel itself wasn’t ready. So we pulled back, until nine months ago, when I was hired and was asked to build out a channel strategy.”

Joseph said that the time is now propitious to take Sysdig to market through the channel.

“The space has matured a ton, and our most recent rounds of funding have showed faith in us and the space,” he stated. “The solution is now ready for channel consumption. We also now have a robust sales team, with channel experience.”

The term channel-first can mean many different things, depending on the company involved, but here it means channel exclusivity outside the Global 500, with sales inside the Global 500 depending on what the customer wants.

“We drew a line in the sand here, which reflects the fact that we will need the channel to hit our long term goals,” Joseph said. “All deals we create outside the Global 500 must go through partners. Inside the Global 500, it can go either way. It depends on how the customer wishes to do business. 90% of the deals will be outside the Global 500, however.”

Sysdig is also building out its dedicated channel partnership team to address both channel and cloud partners, which is expected to grow 200% by the end of March.

Joseph has built the Sysdig channel program out since his arrival, but indicated it will go through multiple iterations before it is finished.

“There will be a time for that,” he said. “We are making a huge investment in the team. Enablement is a huge piece. We have a deal registration program and we are offering very healthy margins, which don’t decline over years. We are investing heavily in marketing and cobranding efforts. We are starting with a single tier, but the plan is to eventually build it out to three.”

Training is important, but not compulsory.

“We are training our partner sellers on cloud and container security, and we have accreditations, which they can choose if they want,” Joseph noted.
The strategy is not to sign up lots of partners.

“We want to be selective,” Joseph said. “Ideally they would be larger in size, would have relationships with customers, and ideally, would have security and DevOps teams.” Some of their partners include CDW, Trace 3, Optiv, GuidePoint Security, Presidio, EVOTEK, Sorint.lab, and SVA.

Today, Sysdig has about 160 partners signed, but have really strategic relationships with about 30, although Joseph indicated that will grow over time.

“We have three real go-to partners in Canada – CDW Canada, Optiv Canada and Arctiq,” he said, the latter of which amalgamated with Benchmark, another Canadian solution provider, this week. “We would love to add some specialized security VARs in western Canada.”