AT&T Cybersecurity Poised to Help MSSPs

Other than a name change, AlienVault's partner program remains mostly intact.

Edward Gately, Senior News Editor

March 14, 2019

9 Min Read

AT&T Cybersecurity plans to help partners increase their security services capabilities because “everybody wants to be an MSSP.”

That’s according to Mike LaPeters, AT&T Cybersecurity’s vice president of global channel sales. AlienVault has combined with AT&T cybersecurity consulting and AT&T managed security services to form the new division.

AT&T’s acquisition of AlienVault was announced last summer and was finalized last fall. The division is led by Barmak Meftah, president of AT&T Cybersecurity and former CEO of AlienVault.

“By abstracting much of the management of individual security products, we are automating deployment and ongoing operations, and operating them as a single unified solution — much in the same way AlienVault had done with the critical capabilities required for threat detection and response,” Meftah said in his recent blog unveiling the new division. “This platform will use the technical capabilities and reach of AT&T’s edge-to-edge intelligence in order to deliver solutions as on-demand digital services optimized to help protect customers through their own digital transformation journey.”

Earlier this month, AT&T announced it has joined the Global Telco Security Alliance launched by Singtel, Etisalat, Softbank and Telefónica. It is made up of global telco operators that provide enterprises with insights to address cybersecurity issues.


AT&T Cybersecurity’s Mike LaPeters

In a Q&A with Channel Futures’ MSSP Insider, LaPeters talks about AT&T Cybersecurity’s plans to provide partners with more managed service opportunities, and how little has changed in terms of channel leadership and direction.

Channel Futures’ MSSP Insider: What went into the process of integrating AT&T and AlienVault?

Mike LaPeters: When we actually launched the organization, there was an enormous amount of effort to understand how go-to-market strategies have worked in the past for AT&T Business because security was never a business unit for AT&T; it was technology that was offered and available through the AT&T Business organization. So the biggest piece that happened over that time period was setting up the management structure … and three quarters of them are legacy AlienVault. So from our perspective, an AlienVault perspective, this leads to a really solid grounding on how we’re going to go to market as an organization and that it’s going to have a lot of flavor of AlienVault to it. And as the guy who’s responsible for indirect for AlienVault, that’s pretty exciting for me because channels are such a significant part of the AlienVault DNA and that’s transitioning to this as well.

The good news from my perspective is not much changed in my organization because we’re continuing to offer and make available our technology for resell, our technology as the managed service, and then working closely with …

… our distributors to help make that happen. So while there’s a lot of change going on with some of the other groups from a sales perspective because there are different go-to-market routes, our channels are remaining largely focused on the same direction.

CFMI: What has the formation of AT&T Cybersecurity meant for AlienVault and AT&T partners? What sort of opportunities does AT&T Cybersecurity provide for MSSPs and other cybersecurity providers looking to increase their cybersecurity capabilities?

ML: A really strong message that we’ve been taking to our partners and also to our customer community is that conceptually a lot of people have gone down this path that a product is going to solve the problem. But here’s the problem with security: Like war or crime, security cannot be solved with technology. What they’ve been solved by and how you are able to solve security is with people, process and technology. We now have the AlienVault USM product, a platform of technology for our partners to build their service offering — but AT&T is also one of the top three MSSPs in the world. So this whole concept of people, process and technology, we’re able to take and flow both directly and through partners. The coolest part about it is there [are] a lot of these services that AT&T provides right now that we’re in the process of repackaging to be able to offer through some MSSPs that are not ready to do some of these services on their own. So I think that’s a strong message, how we’re looking at the technologies that AT&T offers directly today and repackaging them for partners. That’s going to be a really strong piece of what AT&T is going to be able to bring to the partner community because we all know everybody wants to be an MSSP today, but not everybody’s really capable of offering all of the services that are necessary to truly be a MSSP.

Helping our partners be successful with understanding how best to deliver our technology as a platform, and then all of the advances we’re making from a product perspective by being able to plug into so many third-party technologies through our AlienApps ecosystem has put us in a position where we can continue to add value inexpensively for the MSSPs.

CF: What does the combination of AT&T and AlienVault mean in terms of threat intelligence?

ML: 2.3 petabytes worth of data flows through AT&T’s wires every single day; somewhere between one-third and one-half of internet traffic globally goes through AT&T‘s wires every single day, and the office of our chief security officer for AT&T has been working for some time on extrapolating metadata from all of that. That’s going to help really beef up our threat intelligence. And so that’s in process right now. Having access to all of that information is going to take our very robust open threat exchange … plus the threat researchers we have inside Alien Labs, and then couple that with this intelligence of having all that information that goes through …

… the internet — bringing that altogether, that’s just an enormous value for our partner community. It’s a really strong value piece.

CF: What does the combination of AT&T and AlienVault mean in terms of competitive advantage?

ML: With the combination of these organizations, it’s put us into a position where, as a business unit, we’re probably among the largest dedicated security operations that exists in the world. That’s one of the great things about being part of an organization like AT&T. So having the infrastructure and the horsepower behind you of being somebody who’s doing a lot of security services right now is giving us a bit of a competitive advantage. The second thing that’s really important for our partner community is with the fact that AT&T offers managed security services ourselves to customers and … all of the key learnings that we get from working with some of the largest organizations in the world in security get built right back into the USM platform. And then the last thing is our threat intelligence puts us above everybody else. So lots of competitive advantages, and the reason why our MSSP community continues to grow, why they continue to renew their commitment to AT&T Cybersecurity as a partner, and why we continue to focus on it.

CF: What sort of feedback has AT&T Cybersecurity received from partners? What are their needs?

ML: The biggest feedback that we’ve received from our partner community has been guarded enthusiasm. As with any merger, there’s always concern of what’s going to happen to culture, brand identity and the people you have engaged with for years. That’s one of the things that’s so exciting for us and why I’m personally excited about the management structure we have in place. It’s enabled us to be able to respond not only quickly and with a really solid answer, but with a truly high-valued answer to them of saying, yes, it is always a bit stressful when an acquisition happens and you worry about what’s going to happen, but AT&T … wanted everything. This wasn’t a technology grab, it wasn’t a personnel grab, it wasn’t just to make a statement … but this was truly AT&T wanting the entire thing. So by keeping that management structure in place, by continuing to invest in our partners and continuing to keep their infrastructure in place, they haven’t noticed any difference other than the fact that we’re actually spending more money with our partners, we’re investing more strategically with them, so I think we’ve really been able to handle that one piece.

The second thing that has been brought up by our partner community is ensuring that there’s going to be continued investment in technology because AT&T hasn’t always been known as a product company. Our platform powers globally a significant amount of partners and their worry is if this gets brought in, are you going to continue to make the advancements that you have and continue to make the updates that you’re doing, are you going to continue to add AlienApps. We’re continuing to invest in the product. It’s the key cornerstone piece of both …

… our partners’ ecosystem and it’s also the key part about AT&T’s go-to-market for our ability to offer a managed service based on the USM Anywhere product.

CF: Has there been a consolidation of partner programs?

ML: AT&T Business group has the AT&T Partner Solutions (APS) group, and that group is led by Zee Hussain. He has three groups: Alliance partners, ACC [Business] partners and APEX (Partner Exchange) partners. The closest resembling the AlienVault – now AT&T Cybersecurity partners – are the APEX partners, but what we have not done – and there is not anything on the horizon yet – is to try to combine these programs. The primary reason is that what APEX partners deliver from a services perspective is so radically different. While the transaction is almost identical, what they do and what market they serve is very different. We’re starting to do some cross-pollination between the organizations. So we’re seeing some APEX partners becoming AT&T Cybersecurity partners for the MSSP program and we’re seeing some of our MSSPs becoming APEX partners for AT&T’s APS group. So we’re seeing it that way, but we haven’t seen that it makes sense yet to just do a complete merger, and there is no intention of actually taking the AT&T Cybersecurity partners out of our business unit and moving them into APS.

CF: What can we expect to see from AT&T Cybersecurity in the coming months?

ML: From the partner side, maintaining our position and focus on partner enablement, partner education and success in being able to on-board net-new customers — we’re staying laser-focused on that for 2019. And we’re doing that because we want to ensure that our partners know that our commitment to them is unwavering. Other than changing the name of our program from the AlienVault partner program to the AT&T Cybersecurity partner program, our focus is so solidly and so strongly on rolling in any new updates we do from a technology perspective, but maintaining our support, doing everything we can to grow our level of engagement with our partner community, and then also on-boarding those new partners that are excited about the concept of this new AT&T Cybersecurity world.

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About the Author(s)

Edward Gately

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

As news editor, Edward Gately covers cybersecurity, new channel programs and program changes, M&A and other IT channel trends. Prior to Informa, he spent 26 years as a newspaper journalist in Texas, Louisiana and Arizona.

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