IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Barracuda Was Cloud Before Cloud Was Cool

The security and backup vendor took its first steps into the world of off-site computing eight years ago. Now it’s sharing its considerable cloud know-how with partners. By Rich Freeman

STRUGGLING TO BUILD cloud computing into your business model? Barracuda Networks Inc. feels your pain.                  

Or more accurately, the vendor felt it, and years before most of its competitors at that. The Campbell, Calif.-based maker of security and backup solutions began its own journey into the cloud some eight years ago, when it acquired a company that makes firewalls for ATMs. Securing and supporting those devices over long distances taught Barracuda lessons that it put to good use later when it came time to implement and manage virtual appliances in remote cloud data centers.

“We’ve embraced cloud a lot more than most folks have,” says Ezra Hookano, vice president of channels at Barracuda.

Now, he continues, the company is sharing its hard-won cloud know-how with its more than 6,100 active partners in North America, a little over half of whom focus on businesses with 500 or fewer employees.

“We feel like we’re leading in the cloud and we want to try and start leveraging that back into people who are making transitions,” Hookano says. Wondering how to deploy physical and virtual firewalls across a hybrid cloud environment, for example? Been there, done that, says Barracuda, and here’s how it works.

“Helping partners bridge that gap is where we see a lot of upside,” Hookano says.

Helping channel pros make money in the cloud is another top objective for Barracuda at present. This month, in fact, the company will introduce a new partner of record program designed to help VARs earn commissions on solutions hosted in the public cloud. Traditionally, services like Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services make measuring consumption on a partner-by-partner basis extremely difficult. Barracuda, however, has found a work-around.

“The folks [whom] we’ve talked to in the industry about it tell us that we will be the first security provider doing that,” he says.

Leadership in Managed Services

Barracuda has made leadership in managed services a priority in recent years too. The company bought BDR vendor Intronis in September 2015 and has been rolling out subscription-priced versions of its security and backup appliances under the Intronis MSP Solutions by Barracuda brand since early last year. According to Hookano, partnering with MSPs is a more scalable way for Barracuda to support small businesses than doing that work itself.

“It’s a lot easier for us to provide technical support to one managed service provider who handles 1,000 five-seat to 50-seat customers than it is for us to individually manage all of those,” he says.

Partners with smaller clients will appreciate Barracuda’s deal registration program, as it accepts any opportunity worth more than $3,000. “For the sheer number of transactions that we do, to take deal registration down to that level is pretty significant,” says Hookano, who notes that partners receive even richer margins for registered deals worth over $30,000.

And then there are the leads. Hookano says those airport ads you see for Barracuda products are just one part of a high-speed marketing machine that produces an avalanche of sales leads for Barracuda to share with its partners.

“When we say ‘leads,’ we mean something that closes one out of three times within 30 days,” he adds. “We’re handing over really, really, really warm leads.” Though it changes slightly over time, the formula that determines which partner gets those leads follows predictable patterns.

“In general, the more deals that a partner is bringing to us, the more they can expect that we will send back to them,” Hookano says.

Couldn’t hurt if you have serious expertise in cloud computing and security too, though. Hookano estimates that maybe 30 of Barracuda’s partners worldwide are truly proficient in both of those fields.

“We're talking about a really small, small segment of the whole group,” he says. Stands to reason companies that join them—and Barracuda itself—on the vanguard of cloud security will grab more than their share of new business in return.

About the Author

Rich Freeman is ChannelPro's Executive Editor

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