'7 Minutes' with Opaq Chief Strategy Officer Ken Ammon'7 Minutes' with Opaq Chief Strategy Officer Ken Ammon
Gartner named Opaq a “Cool Vendor” for midsize enterprise security.
July 12, 2018
**Editor’s Note: “7 Minutes” is a feature where we ask channel executives from startups – or companies that may be new to the Channel Partners audience – a series of quick questions about their businesses and channel programs.**
Network security cloud company Opaq so far has had a busy year and is showing no sign of slowing down as it on-boards new partners and takes aim at competitors like Zscaler and Cato Networks.
In March, Opaq announced the acquisition of FourV Systems to beef up its security-as-a-service platform with performance and regulatory compliance measurement, monitoring and reporting. This followed its acquisitions of Bat Blue Networks, a provider of IP and cloud-based network and security services, and Drawbridge Networks, a provider of microsegmentation solutions.
In April, Opaq closed a $22.5 million Series B round of venture financing led by new investor Greenspring Associates, with continuing participation from Columbia Capital and Harmony Partners. The company said the financing was earmarked to accelerate its go-to-market with its partners.
Opaq Networks’ Ken Ammon
And last month, Gartner named Opaq a “Cool Vendor” for midsize enterprise security.
“We consider Gartner’s recognition of Opaq as a “Cool Vendor” validation for the value that midsize enterprises are receiving from the Opaq cloud,” said Glenn Hazard, the company’s CEO.
In a Q&A with Channel Partners, Ken Ammon, Opaq’s chief strategy officer, talks about what his company has to offer partners and the strength of its cloud-based security-as-a-service platform.
Channel Partners: Tell us what customers love about your product or service. What’s the secret selling sauce?
Ken Ammon: Midsize enterprises need the same advanced security protection as their large enterprise counterparts. After all, they are in the crosshairs of the same sophisticated cyberattacks. However, enterprise-grade security has been out of their reach. It requires cobbling together dozens of network security products, but most midsize enterprises struggle with budget shortfalls, security skills gaps and other resource constraints. With Opaq, service providers can deliver enterprise-grade security as a service in the most cost effective, flexible way — from the cloud.
For MSPs and MSSPs, delivering security services that can holistically protect mobile users, IoT, dynamic multicloud architectures, branch offices, legacy platforms and on-premises data centers can be difficult and costly. As the number of products required to provide such a broad range of services continues to expand, service providers are struggling to maintain margins while trying to integrate, automate and orchestrate across their entire service portfolio. Opaq’s cloud-based security-as-a-service platform simplifies traditional approaches to providing security services, delivering a robust set of security capabilities that help reduce complexity and minimize costs. MSSPs and MSPs find the Opaq Cloud platform appealing since it requires fewer people to support and no hardware to manage, and creates opportunities to add security services to their portfolios without the need for additional capital.
Opaq’s secret sauce includes a number of elements, and is based on a fully encrypted SD-WAN purpose-built for security and performance. Our network is supported by more than 150 peering relationships with the likes of Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook and others — which means that the majority of network traffic traversing the Opaq Cloud goes directly to …
… the intended destination without even touching the internet. Unique intellectual property, such as software-defined network segmentation capabilities, provide 100-percent visibility and control across the internal network and prevent lateral east-west movement throughout the internal network if a breach were to occur. We also built the Opaq 360 portal to serve as a simple, intuitive interface for partners to centrally monitor, manage and enforce policies for their clients. Opaq’s subscription-based, as-a-service model makes it simple for our partners’ customers to consume, while allowing service providers to achieve revenue margins of up to 40 percent or more.
CP: Describe your channel program — metal levels, heavy on certifications, open or selective, unique features? Do you work with masters and/or distributors?
KA: Opaq is 100 percent channel — we work directly with our partners, enabling VARs, MSPs and MSSPs to deliver comprehensive network security as a service to midsize enterprises — from the Opaq Cloud. The Opaq Partner Program offers gold and silver partner levels. The Opaq partner portal is a single interface that makes it simple for partners to do business with Opaq. The portal enables partners to: set up business agreements; create joint business and marketing plans with Opaq; track activity and notifications from a dashboard; receive training and certification; access a resource library; perform deal registration; manage leads and request market development funds (MDF).
Gold partners agree to a $3 million annual commitment and are entitled to three Opaq-certified engineers, and the above resources and tools accessible through the Opaq partner portal. Silver partners agree to a $1 million annual commitment and are entitled to one Opaq-certified engineer, and to the above resources and tools accessible through the Opaq partner portal, except for MDF.
CP: Quick-hit answers: Percentage of sales through the channel, number of partners, average margin. Go.
KA: We are selling 100 percent through channel. Opaq is not looking to sign partners “en masse,” but instead are focused on adding 30-40 quality partners by the end of the year. Partners achieve recurring revenue margins of 40 percent or more. Some partners are seeing an increase in revenue margins of more than 25 percent (over legacy MSSP revenue margins) — with time-to-value being measured in minutes and hours, not weeks and months.
CP: Who are your main competitors, and what makes your offering better?
KA: Zscaler and Cato Networks are the most commonly referenced competitors; however, the Opaq cloud delivers more and stronger integrated security capabilities than these companies. For example, our software-defined network segmentation technology, which is just one capability integrated into the Opaq cloud platform, is an endpoint agent that provides VPN, asset inventory, segmentation and
quarantine capabilities. This enables partners to incorporate endpoint and managed detection and response into their service offerings. Also, Opaq’s business model is philosophically different than its competitors. Our strategic partnership business model enables the partners to deliver best-in-class, enterprise-grade security powered by known, trusted brands such as …
… Palo Alto Networks and Cloudflare — security capabilities that in many cases are otherwise too costly for midsize enterprises to buy and manage.
CP: How do you think your technology portfolio will change in the next three years?
KA: Automation and orchestration is a cornerstone of the Opaq cloud platform. The Opaq cloud platform is API-based and is extremely flexible. Augmented capabilities may be incorporated into the cloud platform. Things like artificial intelligence (AI) will likely influence Opaq’s technology portfolio, as will the needs and demands of partner clients.
CP: How do you expect your channel strategy to evolve over that time frame?
KA: Three years is a very long time to project in the security market. However, security as a service is a mainstay. We anticipate VARs, who are seeking to rapidly evolve their business, will leverage the Opaq cloud platform as a simple and cost-effective way to rapidly expand their businesses by delivering security services. For MSPs and MSSPs, and other service providers, we anticipate continued rapid adoption of the Opaq cloud platform.
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