'7 Minutes' with SecurityFirst Channel Chiefs Richard Vaughn and Nicholas Waddell

Customers that aren't encrypting sensitive data are asking for trouble. Just ask Equifax.

Lorna Garey

November 15, 2017

6 Min Read

**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.**

SecurityFirst, which just launched its partner program aimed at resellers and managed service providers, is sure to benefit from mounting customer panic as we move closer to May 2018, when GDPR goes into effect. The only thing experts seem to agree on is that no one knows whether the European Union will move aggressively to make an example of a company that’s lost personally identifiable data on its citizens. If it does so, that company could well be based in the United States. And given the size of potential fines, it’s likely to be a very expensive object lesson.


SecurityFirst’s Richard Vaughn

We discuss the specifics of the SecurityFirst Channel Partner Program here. Short version, it has the expected sales enablement, marketing help and pricing discounts, and is aimed at partners serving SMBs and midmarket customers. There are separate tracks for resellers, with three metal tiers based on license sales, and MSPs that have security practices and are more interested in MRR.

The technology is also suited for enterprises and government agencies, and SecurityFirst CEO Jim Varner says the firm is seeing spending on data security doubling year-over-year.

The DataKeep encryption software uses FIPS 140-2 and cryptographic bit splitting. It provides a central management console and encryption agents that protect data from creation through storage, whether on-premises or in the cloud. The inclusion of key management and auditable access logging address two of the main pain points that have stalled wider use of encryption. Even Equifax said that stolen data was in the clear, a rather stunning admission.


SecurityFirst’s Nicholas Waddell

We asked co-directors of channel Richard Vaughan and Nicholas Waddell to tackle our seven key questions. Vaughn came to SecurityFirst from Toshiba, while Waddell has worked with Cylance as well as Ingram Micro, where he built vertical-market channel programs. They’re jointly responsible for the SecurityFirst channel strategy, including developing the pricing models and enablement resources necessary to effectively support the channel partner community, and for recruiting strategic partners.

Channel Partners: Tell us what customers love about your product or service. What’s the secret selling sauce?

Waddell & Vaughn: SecurityFirst’s DataKeep data-protection solution represents an additional revenue and profit opportunity for the channel. It complements other network security layers – firewall, IPS, SIEM, incident response – and operates across on-premises, cloud or hybrid environments to safeguard a customer’s data.  According to Stratistics MRC, the global market for encryption software was $2.45 billion in 2015 and will grow to $10.21 billion by 2022. That’s an annual increase of 22.6 percent. This a high-growth opportunity for partners looking to expand their …

… security practice portfolios, and 2018 is going to be a “big bang” event when GDPR becomes law.

DataKeep introduces a critical extra data-centric layer of security, and peace of mind, to the end client at a time when we are still frequently seeing cybersecurity perimeter defenses fail. It requires minimal training and can be installed and managed by most IT security staffers. Our product represents a last line of defense, making any data exfiltrated by threat actors unusable. This is a great message and a greenfield opportunity. So many businesses need help planning and implementing data-protection services. Many may become exposed from a simple compliance reporting angle, and many more need to better track and control any collected data that could be considered personally identifiable.

CP: Describe your channel program — metal levels, heavy on certifications, open or selective, unique features?

W&V: The SecurityFirst Channel Partner Program is based on three levels: platinum, gold and silver. The platinum level provides the highest benefits and the deepest discounts but requires a higher level of technical capability to provide Layer 1 and 2 support and a certification training program for deployment services delivery. The gold level is designed for those VARs that can’t provide that depth of technical capability, but want to be engaged on a sales and marketing basis with Level 1 support. The silver level is for “referral fee” opportunities only where SecurityFirst’s higher level partners can then be engaged to actually deliver the solution.

Also, SecurityFirst has an MSSP program, which offers a monthly subscription-based approach to delivering and supporting DataKeep to their customer base, providing deeper discounts based on the level of monthly recurring revenue attained.

CP: Quick-hit answers: Percentage of sales through the channel, number of partners, average margin. Go.

W&V: The quick easy answer to this is 100 percent! SecurityFirst is fully committed to the channel as the only route to market for our solutions. We’re extending our traditional OEM partner strategy, which still represents a significant share of our business, and opening a new channel approach to the market for data protection and encryption solutions.

Our IT/VAR and MSSP Channel Partner Program initiative is a new strategic direction for SecurityFirst, and we are in the recruitment phase of adding new authorized resellers to ensure the highest-quality partners with the right technical capability and geographical footprint throughout North America. Our pricing and discount schedule for channel partners is extremely aggressive, meaning partners can see gross profit margins of up to 50 percent depending on the volume tiers and partner type.

CP: Who are your main competitors, and what makes your offering better?

W&V: Our primary competitors are Thales Vormetric, Gemalto SafeNet, Sophos and cloud storage vendors. There are numerous positive attributes of SecurityFirst’s DataKeep compared to these other solutions, but in summary, DataKeep does not require the purchase of …

… additional hardware or multiple software modules to achieve the solution and also does not impose a steep learning curve or demands for expertise at the client level. It allows end users to manage their own keys and offers convenient console function integration through a RESTful API for flexibility.

CP: How do you think your technology portfolio will change in the next three years?

W&V: SecurityFirst will remain focused on providing data-protection solutions that help organizations avoid damaging data losses, customer attrition and brand reputation damage. Our data-centric solutions will extend beyond servers to endpoints and object storage, wherever the data resides.

CP: How do you expect your channel strategy to evolve over that time frame?

W&V: Our focus is on recruiting “best of breed” security resellers/MSSPs who can provide the level of security expertise and support to most effectively sell and deploy DataKeep. We will be managing these select partner relationships directly.

We continue to garner interest from the channel community at all levels to increase and expand our partners due to the growth of importance and need of cybersecurity solutions. We currently are in discussions with a few selective distribution partners to assist in expanding the reach across all channel segments.

There is undoubtedly vast opportunity for our solutions in the international markets and channels across EMEA, LATAM, APAC. Once we have a strong foothold and flow of channel business in the U.S. market, we have plans to expand our international presence and partnerships.

CP: What didn’t we ask that partners should know?

W&V:  It is important to know that we have a two-pronged approach to delivering our solutions through the channel:

  • Perpetual license model, for example, a one-time “capex” sales process.

  • Subscription license model with a monthly recurring revenue (MRR) process.

We have a very comprehensive partner support program including (but not limited to) a tiered pricing schedule, sales and technical training, technical certification training, co-marketing options, a deal registration program, free NFR demo software, a lead referral process and a multi-layered sales and technical support infrastructure.

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