BIG-MONEY VENDOR ACQUISITIONS usually result in big-time changes. But since BlackBerry bought security software maker Cylance for $1.4 billion last February, seems the only difference is the company’s name.
“Nothing has really changed,” says May Mitchell (pictured), vice president of worldwide field and channel marketing at what’s now BlackBerry Cylance. “They’ve left Cylance as a separate business unit.”
Indeed, Cylance continues to have its own R&D group, its own salesforce, and most critically for channel pros, its own partner program. According to Mitchell, moreover, that’s likely to remain true for a while. “There are no plans to integrate the two [programs] right now,” she says.
Not that everything is status quo for BlackBerry Cylance’s partner program. The people who run it are still actively engaged in ongoing efforts to beef up the vendor’s managed security offerings. That campaign began a little over three years ago with the introduction of a membership track for managed security service providers (MSSPs), and continues today with a push to drive partner-to-partner relationships between MSPs who provide Tier 1 customer support and more security-savvy MSSPs who provide outsourced Tier 2 services and analysis.
Partners are up and running in 30 days.—May Mitchell, Vice President, Worldwide Field and Channel Marketing, BlackBerry Cylance
Since last year, Cylance has also been prepping some of its more than 1,300 resellers to deliver assessments and other security services utilizing the same threat research and other tools its own analysts and incident responders employ. Participants in that initiative attend a two-and-a-half-day training course, Mitchell notes. “When they leave, we provide them with a list of customers that are due to expire, and they’re able to go back and cross-sell into those customers and generate additional margin,” Mitchell says.
Taking Care of Partners
Cylance prides itself on perks like that, along with the personalized attention it gives partners. “We’re always there to take care of them,” says Ed Anjel, the company’s manager of MSSP alliances, noting that Cylance sells exclusively through the channel.
There are three tiers in the BlackBerry Cylance partner program. MSPs tend to congregate at the Gold level and work chiefly with the company’s top distributors, Carahsoft and SYNNEX. MSSPs, which must have a 24/7 SOC and at least 2,500 endpoints under management, typically start at the Platinum level. From there they can climb to the top-rank Emerald tier, where they get a dedicated account manager and field marketing assistance. Qualifications for each tier are based on revenue, annual bookings, and how many certified technicians are on staff.