High end SecOps platform vendor ReliaQuest completes transition from direct to partner-first model

Two years ago, only 5% of ReliaQuest’s deals went through a partner, a number which rose to 70% last quarter, and led to the company pledging that all deals will now go through a partner unless a customer objects.

Colin O’Connor, COO of ReliaQuest

ReliaQuest, which is based in Tampa and has been in business since 2007, has announced that it has completed the transition it began two years ago from a mainly direct player to a channel-first one where every new deal goes through a partner.  ReliaQuest also says more channel-friendly moves are on the way.

The company makes a security operations platform, GreyMatter, that is built on open XDR architecture, and looks on XDR as both a capability and an architecture.

The company thinks that the analyst firms really don’t assess what they do accurately.

“Gartner has not put us in a space,” said Colin O’Connor, COO of ReliaQuest. Forrester puts us in the MDR category, a place which does not really fit what we do either. The difference is that most traditional MDR systems are people-centric, while our platform does most of the work.”

Historically, most of ReliaQuest’s customers have been very large companies.

“We were born in the large enterprise,” O’Connor said. “For our first 12 years, our typical customer was a billion dollars and up. Two years ago, we launched a mid enterprise initiative, where the target audience was between 100 million and a billion dollars.”

O’Connor said that their principal competition is do-it-yourself work by these large companies.

“We do not compete with the tech vendors for the most part,” he stated. “We encourage customers to own these companies like Splunk or Crowdstrike or SentinelOne, because we integrate with them.”

The channel is new as a significant component of ReliaQuest’s business.

“About two years ago it was around 5%, and from there it has climbed to 70% on Q4 of 2022.,” O’Connor said. “We made a deliberate shift in 2022 to the partner first model, and have been very strategic in building that partner network out.” It now includes just over 50 partners globally.

“We don’t want hundreds of partners,” he indicated. “Today we have about 35 in the U.S. and about 15 in EMEA. I need to be able to properly enable the ones that we do have.”

O’Connor indicated that this 2022 transition to partner first came at the request of the company’s customers, and was actually made possible by the company’s growth.

“A lot of our customers told us that they wanted to work with specific partners,” he said. “Earlier on this would have been difficult, because we did not have the momentum or share that made us an easy product to sell. We are now large enough to add a partner community to fuel our growth. We began by removing friction at the field level, and we did this 18 months ago.”

For ReliaQuest, partner first means that all new business will go through a channel partner.

“We view it as any net new business, which can be fulfillment business,” O’Connor said. “Partners want to know that we are equally invested in this relationship. We won’t force customers to go through a partner though if they don’t want to do that.”

There is a partner program in place today, which is single tier, so that all 50 partners are in the same tier.

“We essentially have three different types of partners,” O’Connor said. “In each region, we target 1 to 2 boutique partners in cybersecurity,  1 to 2 regional partners, often with a security focus, and only 2-3 national partners. A lot have a services arm that make us both more competitive.”

While the transition to the partner-first model itself is now substantially complete, O’Connor said partners can expect to see additional enhancements from which they will benefit.

“They will see a ton of changes in the next six months to make it easier to work with us,” he stressed.