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OpenText Exec: Security Practice Brings New, Increasing Opportunities For Partners

In a Q&A with Channel Futures, Anthony Di Bello, OpenText's senior director of market development, talks about his task of creating a new security practice, and the latest opportunities for partners with the company's technologies.

OPENTEXT ENFUSE — Enterprise information management (EIM) company OpenText is increasing its focus on security and has charged a former executive with Guidance Software, which it acquired last fall, to build a security practice.

OpenText's security technologies have been on full display during the company's Enfuse 2018 conference this week in Las Vegas. Some 1,500 attendees from 40 countries, including more than 600 companies, are in attendance.

Anthony Di Bello, OpenText's senior director of market development, was with Guidance since 2005 and most recently he ran all of that company's product teams, responsible for road-map development, go-to-market, strategic development and channel alignment.

By acquiring Guidance, OpenText added that company's EnCase line of e-discovery, endpoint detection and response, digital investigations, and data risk-management offerings to its portfolio. OpenText also acquired cloud-service HighTail and then introduced the OpenText Release 16 Enhancement Pack 4 (EP4) that further extends security, AI, IoT and cloud support into its EIM platform.

Mark Barrenechea, OpenText’s vice chair, CEO and CTO, said acquisitions are at the center of his company's total growth strategy and more acquisitions are planned this year.

In a Q&A with Channel Futures, Di Bello gives an update on the security practice and expanding opportunities for various partner types.

Channel Futures: Now that you’re with OpenText, how has your role changed?

Anthony Di Bello: My role certainly changed. I was offered a role to create a security business for the company, to help develop a strategy, to help develop a practice, and help map that into the overall OpenText world, which has been a great journey in the short eight months we’ve been together.

Anthony Di Bello

CF: What’s the status of that security business?

AD: The first step was really getting the lay of the land and getting an understanding of what other technology within OpenText can [be relevant] to a security practice. As Guidance Software, we had limited resources as a 300- to 350-person company, so we had to make some hard decisions in terms of where we focused. Under OpenText, that has changed in that we’re able to apply equal focus across our product line, and there’s the opportunity to bring in technology that Guidance Software would have taken years to develop, like machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI).

So now eight months in, we’ve not only identified the relevant touch points, but we’ve started to build. This week, we’re showing some of the new development we’ve done with the Magellan analytics technology and our own security technology to help really accelerate time to detect threats and respond. And this week is the first opportunity I’ve had to speak to all of our channel partners in a singular room to kind of open up the bag in terms of other technology our own partners may be able to sell now as an OpenText partner. And that’s presenting a huge opportunity for our partners who have been focused on Encase for years and years, to bring in Magellan, Axcelerate and some of these other technologies that again are relevant to the folks they sell to.

CF: Can you elaborate more on what this security practice will mean for partners?

AD: Something interesting about security is there is no single vendor, no single technology that solves security. I can buy, for example, Documentum to solve all of my content-management needs, but it’s not the same in the security space. So we leverage our partners heavily to bring together disparate solutions from other vendors and offer unique value to their customers. Others are able to wrap services around the technology that we offer. There’s an opportunity to act as a system integrator, helping us build the integrations between technologies based on what they hear from their customer base. And as such, at least in security, the channel’s critical to our success. It’s far easier to work those relationships through channel partners than for me to try to develop a relationship with 30 different vendors, and do that work ourselves. We’re focused on our technology and making it the best it can be.

CF: What percentage of OpenStack’s business comes through the channel? Is there a goal to increase that percentage?

AD: As it relates to the percentage of business we run through our channels, internationally it’s almost 100 percent. That’s how Guidance has scaled to serve international markets. Some of our international partners have been with us for 20 years and have grown alongside us, expanding their own markets.

Domestically, I would say maybe 60-65 percent of our business goes through the channel. The business that we take direct is typically the concierge-type accounts that demand to work directly with the vendor — they want input into road maps, they want special things built out around their software. We operate along a two-tier model, so both international[ly] and domestic[ally], we have distribution channels that rolled into VAR channels, so we rely heavily on the distie to help us scale the number of partners and the partners to scale the number of customers.

CF: What are you hearing from partners? What do they want from OpenText and their partnerships?

AD: First and foremost, they have a reputation to their customers. They’re the trusted advisers; they’re the consultant for their customers, and as such, they need us to be there every step of the way in support of their needs. I rely on the partners to give me input from their customer base that I can take back to roadmap and turn into the capabilities that they need in order to grow their business. They rely on us as well to help augment their own services, whether it be the implementation of software, the training of use or managing services for their customers hand in hand with their own consultants.

Now under OpenText, first and foremost, they want assurance. There’s been a lot of change; are you still with us. They’ve come to this conference to get an idea of what the commitment looks like. I’m happy to say that we have been doing a very good job since the acquisition and before, but it's the uncertainty piece in terms of delivering software and listening to their needs, and bringing their requirements to light.

CF: Does OpenText have one unified partner program, and as the company continues acquiring other companies, are those partners being integrated into the program?

AD: In terms of the details of the partner program, I’m still learning what that looks like. But part of the message that the OpenText partner team brought to the event was that introduction, the overview of what benefits OpenText provides partners and what that program looks like. We’re still transitioning from the Guidance partner plan to the OpenText partner plan. As Guidance, we had a tiered approach to partners based on sales objectives with benefits depending on the performance of any given partner.

CF: Can you elaborate more on how partners can benefit from the latest technologies discussed here at Enfuse?

AD: First and foremost, OpenText is the information-management company, so how does security play into the core competency of OpenText? That’s what Mark [Barrenechea] has been spending a lot of time talking about this week in terms of without security, there is no content. It’s out in the wild, it’s open to theft, damage, whatever have you. You’ve seen the speed of recent acquisitions that OpenText has made that haven’t been other content companies. They’ve been e-discovery companies, analytics companies, security companies, everything that you would need to get insight out of the content that exists within an organization, as well as protect that content within an organization. So Mark’s message of security-first is something that is timed quite well for a number of different reasons. We can point to Facebook, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), privacy concerns and Russian meddling in elections. More than ever, the public really understands what can be done with the data that they’ve been providing. And the users need to be able to trust that technology, that what they’re giving that technology is safe and secure, and protected from misuse.

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