Titus, a data classification software vendor based in Ottawa, today launched a new partner program and moved to a 100% channel model to fuel the company’s growth.
Integration with other security products is an important part of the Titus strategy. The company’s products use machine learning algorithms to automate the identification and classification of data. This task comes at the front end of broader security engagements, which makes Titus software “the tip of the spear” for other security offerings such as cloud access security brokers (CASBs), data loss prevention (DLP) systems and next-generation firewalls, according to Mike Kuehn, chief revenue officer at Titus.
Specifically, Titus data classification products integrate with Netskope’s CASB offering, Forcepoint’s DLP suite and Palo Alto Networks firewalls among other solutions. Titus aims to work with its technology allies’ channels as well as their products.
“Palo Alto Networks only sells through partners,” Kuehn noted. “By injecting our technology into that partner community, they can provide an enhanced solution for their sales and existing customers.”
Titus data classification and the channel
Although Titus previously worked with channel firms, the data classification software company’s approach was more opportunistic and lacked a focus on partner enablement, Kuehn said. The new channel initiative, however, provides self-paced certification programs with sales and technical modules, a partner portal and 30 points of margin protection for Elite-level partners that register Titus data classification opportunities. The vendor is also putting more pre-sales engineering resources in the field to support partners.
The 100% channel approach goes beyond the go-to-market strategy to include other facets of the company, from product engineering to support, Kuehn said.
“If you’re not all in on working with the channel … as an organization, it is really difficult to build an effective program in the field.”
Kuehn said Titus works with value-added resellers (VARs) that sell security offerings, VARs with cloud practices that need to protect customer data migrating to the cloud, managed service providers and global systems integrators. The latter, Kuehn said, help customers architected broader data protection strategies that begin with a data identification and classification phase.
As a Blackstone Group portfolio company, Titus’ goal is to self-fund growth to the tune of 30%-plus per year. The company’s channel partner focus is “our means to accelerate growth,” Kuehn said.
Sensu Inc. is finding an audience for its multi-cloud monitoring tool among managed service providers, which are integrating the product with their ticketing, configuration management database and event logging systems.
The Portland, Ore., company’s offering lets organizations monitor public clouds such as AWS, Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and Microsoft Azure and private clouds built on OpenStack, VMware and Xen. Sensu earlier this month launched a redesigned tool that offers multi-tenancy and support for container and Kubernetes workloads.
“We are seeing an uptick in popularity among MSPs,” noted Sean Porter, CTO at Sensu. “We know MSPs are dealing with a very wide breadth of technologies and we want to make sure we service that.”
Multi-cloud monitoring attracts MSP
8K Miles Software Services, an MSP and cloud consultancy based in Pleasanton, Calif., has been using Sensu for nearly two years. Sudish Mogli, the company’s CTO, said Sensu’s multi-cloud monitoring capabilities are a major attraction. 8K Miles focuses on healthcare and pharmaceutical companies that often inhabit more than one cloud.
Prior to selecting Sensu’s cloud-monitoring tool, 8K Miles said many of the tools the company evaluated were specific to a particular cloud. “We were looking for something that we could spin up in any cloud environment,” Mogli said. “Sensu met our requirement.”
Container support is another plus in Sensu’s favor, Mogli added. “We also have to look at the future in terms of how applications are being containerized” and designed for serverless architectures, he said.
Cloud monitoring tool integration
Sensu has become 8K Miles’ go-to public cloud and hybrid cloud monitoring tool, but it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. The company has built an automation that lets it take Sensu-generated alerts and automatically open tickets in service management tools such as ServiceNow, Mogli said. Other MSPs have also taken the approach of integrating cloud monitoring tools and service management systems.
Porter said that type of integration is prevalent among customers using Sensu’s multi-cloud monitoring tool. He said MSPs integrate Sensu into ticketing applications, CMDBs and event logging systems such as Splunk. Sensu can serve as a backbone and interconnection between an organization’s systems and data formats, he added.
8K Miles, meanwhile, plans to continue its association with Sensu’s multi-cloud monitoring tool. Mogli said other vendors’ monitoring products have come and gone over the past few years, but the company has been able to stay with Sensu because of the range of technologies it covers. “At the moment, I don’t see a gap,” he noted.
Managed public cloud services have seen a surge of investment among partners, with businesses fueled through organic growth or acquisition.
Companies selling such services provide a range of offerings including account configuration, security consulting, cost optimization and ongoing monitoring to name a few. Managed public cloud practices are proliferating around AWS, Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure.
A report from Accenture, which offers managed public cloud services, suggests the industry’s investment stands to pay off. About 87% of the respondents to the professional service firm’s survey said they would consider the use of managed cloud services. Accenture polled 200 senior IT professionals worldwide. The resulting study, Perspectives on Cloud Outcomes: Expectations vs. Reality, revealed a paucity of cloud expertise among organizations drives customer interest in managed cloud.
Augmenting cloud skills
Indeed, “access to the right skills” was the top benefit respondents cited with regard to managed cloud services, according to Accenture.
Siki Giunta, managing director and cloud strategy lead, journey to cloud, at Accenture, suggested the skills gap stems from organizations compelled to build a cloud center of excellence and institute DevOps at the same time they are dealing with legacy applications.
“They don’t have the spectrum of skills” to span those initiatives, she said.
A managed public cloud provider can augment an enterprise’s skills. That could mean maintaining cloud-based applications, helping clients create a cloud operating model or providing security advice. A managed services provider (MSP) or systems integrator, for example, could take over the maintenance of legacy applications bound for the cloud, while the customer focuses on building the skills it needs to develop cloud-native applications, Giunta said.
Accenture, she added, is placing a particular emphasis on helping customers secure applications running in the cloud. In that capacity, the company serves as a “guide and watchdog,” making sure the client deploys the appropriate security controls.
Meeting cloud expectations
The prospects for managed services look upbeat, but not every cloud has a silver lining. MSPs should be prepared to work with customers that are somewhat dissatisfied with their cloud experiences. A bit more than a third of Accenture’s respondents said the cloud had completely met their expectations with regard to cost (34%), speed (36%), business enablement (35%) and service levels categories (34%), Accenture reported. The task ahead for service providers is dealing with the two-thirds of organizations yet to fully benefit from their cloud moves.
The unrealized promise of cost savings is one area of cloud disappointment.
Giunta said organizations thought they could move an application to the cloud and dollars would drop from their balance sheets. That benefit hasn’t always materialized, however.
The problem stems from enterprises treating the cloud as a technology transformation rather than a business transformation, noted Kishore Durg, cloud lead, growth and strategy, at Accenture. Getting business value out of the cloud requires decisive moves that yield significant cost savings — the ability to close an in-house data center, for instance. A less aggressive approach to cloud adoption leaves an organization with the expense of traditional IT while it invests in the cloud operating model.
Enterprises face the choice of either jumping into the cloud and getting all of the benefits or having a clear strategy for maintaining innovation, speed and a competitive edge while running dual operating and cost models, Giunta said.
Just migrating a couple of applications to the cloud won’t deliver the anticipated benefits, Durg suggested.
“If you do [cloud migration] piecemeal — application by application — you are not transforming how your business runs,” he said. “To really see the value, you need to have a business-value journey, not an app-to-the-cloud journey.”
Accenture’s research contains some implicit advice for other managed public cloud services firms: Encourage clients to think about the big picture rather than the migration of individual apps to the cloud.
Early-stage companies are finding IT consulting firms can serve as a customer base and a sales conduit for their offerings.
A few of the startups selected for MIT Sloan CIO Symposium’s Innovation Showcase, held May 22 in Cambridge, Mass., are cultivating partnerships with well-established technology advisors. The annual Innovation Showcase highlights 10 companies deemed to represent the cream of the innovation crop for enterprise customers.
Project management firm finds consulting niche
Clubhouse, an Innovation Showcase finalist based in New York, offers a project management platform geared toward software development teams. Deloitte is among the startup’s customers.
“We find that IT consulting firms are a key and growing market segment for Clubhouse,” said Mitch Wainer, CMO at Clubhouse. “Forward-thinking IT consultants or agencies such as Deloitte use Clubhouse as their go-to project management tool for software development.”
Consultants using the project management product in-house may open sales opportunities with their clients.
“They will use Clubhouse for their clients’ projects as well as recommend it to their clients as a tool to adopt post project completion,” Wainer said.
Secure coding startup teams with consultants
Secure Code Warrior, a Boston company and showcase finalist, has also established alliances with consulting partners. The company, which offers a suite of educational secure coding tools, works with Accenture and Optiv, for example.
“We see them as strategic partners that can take our solution to a broader market,” said Matias Madou, co-founder and CTO at Secure Code Warrior.
The startup initially pursued direct sales. But Secure Code Warrior, having optimized its sales process over the last three years, is looking to partners for a boost.
“Now we feel that we can scale our sales by engaging with the strategic partners,” Madou said.
Enterprise AI company eyes channel partners
NLP Logix, a finalist based in Jacksonville, Fla., is taking a similar path. The company sells directly to customers due to the highly customized nature of the machine learning and intelligent automation solutions it provides for enterprise customers. The company, however, has developed a set of products in addition to its customized offerings.
“We are beginning to develop channel partners to distribute them,” said Samantha Hartman, director of marketing at NLP Logix.
Those products are Scribe Fusion, an AI-based OCR/ICR offering; PayPensity, a product for accounts receivable management, credit and debt recovery organizations; and Matchpoint, which automates workflow for recruiting teams.
Early-stage companies, in general, may first focus on direct sales to learn more about customer needs and buying patterns before turning over sales to channel partners. That said, some startups develop channel marketing strategies from the onset.
The rest of the field
Other startups featured in MIT Sloan’s top 10 include AllyO, a maker of AI-based recruiting software; Big Panda, an autonomous operations platform vendor; DeepBench, an expert sourcing platform; Elisify, an on-demand marketplace for financial data; Gradle, a build automation tool developer; Posh, a conversational AI platform; and Topos Labs, a text-mining software vendor.
This year’s Innovation Showcase focused on early-stage companies with 2018 revenue of less than $10 million. Other selection criteria included the availability of an enterprise IT product in the market, a sales motion targeting CIOs or corporate IT departments, the ability to demonstrate innovation, and the potential to improve a customer’s top and/or bottom lines.
An IBM lead-sharing tool highlights how AI is making inroads in systems that facilitate partner engagement.
Launched in 2018, Smarter Cognitive Opportunity Recommendation Engine (SCORE) uses IBM cognitive computing to guide and expedite the lead-sharing process. So far, IBM’s software organizations have adopted SCORE. The system is expanding to IBM’s hardware business units, the company said. SCORE follows on the heels of IBM Business Partner Connect, a tool that uses Watson to help partners team up for customer opportunities.
“What [we are] trying to do … is make cognitive the epicenter of all our transformation initiatives, and we are starting here with SCORE,” said Mike Fino, COO of IBM Partner Ecosystem.
IBM had been focused on automating its lead-sharing engine for about two years, Fino said. “Up until we started with the SCORE effort, writing static programs or static algorithms didn’t lend themselves well to the lead-[sharing] environment, because it is such a fluid space,” he said. In late 2017, executives considered tapping into IBM cognitive technology, and, in doing so, improve the speed and quality of lead sharing.
Fino said IBM’s AI technology gives SCORE a powerful edge over traditional lead-sharing engines. “That is really the secret of what SCORE gives us, which is the ability to learn from every positive and negative decision or recommendation that we make, factor that [knowledge] into the next one, and have that be the living engine that we use to engage with our partners,” he said.
How SCORE makes recommendations
SCORE’s top priority was to establish a system that would “pass the right opportunities — in other words, the opportunities our business partners are most likely to win — to the right business partner … in a timely fashion,” said Alan Zwiren, cognitive and AI transformation manager, IBM partner ecosystem.
To determine the right IBM business partners, SCORE assesses partner firms against an array of attributes. Attributes can include the partner’s win rate, experience, geographical proximity to the prospect and competencies. Much of the information that SCORE uses is based on partners’ historical performance data but is extending to other data sources as well, Zwiren said. When SCORE generates a recommendation, it also gives users an explanation for how it came to its conclusions.
“We tried to provide explanations to show end users which key features of specific business partners are influencing the recommendation,” noted Oznur Alkan, research scientist at IBM Research.
A feedback loop, which collects feedback from IBM sales, business partners and other sources, lets SCORE continuously learn and improve its recommendations.
Zirwin added that SCORE evaluates the attributes used to rank partners on a monthly basis. “We look at many different dimensions … and each of these dimensions are weighed once a month automatically by SCORE to say, ‘Which is the most predictive [dimension] of a won deal?’ ” he said.
‘A North Star’ for IBM business partners
SCORE has proven valuable in two fundamental respects, Fino said. The first is for its assistance in getting IBM’s leads into the right partner hands. The second benefit is that it has helped incentivize certain behaviors among IBM business partners. Those behaviors can help partners improve their ranking within the engine.
“[We] are starting to see our partners focusing on the same things that we believe are important to not only help them improve their status, but … we are seeing more and more partners use [SCORE] as a bit of a North Star to drive their enablement efforts,” Fino said.
More partner tools that use IBM cognitive computing are on the horizon. In addition to SCORE and IBM Business Partner Connect, Fino said his team is developing a tool that uses AI to help partners with cross-selling by recommending adjacent offerings.
“I think this is really just the beginning,” he said.
When SADA Systems hired Miles Ward as CTO, his gear arrived at the Los Angeles-based cloud technology consultancy before he did.
Ward, formerly director and global lead for solutions at Google Cloud, officially joined SADA Systems on May 20. But the equipment he ordered to build an Anthos demonstration machine arrived about two weeks ago. Anthos, an application management platform that Google unveiled last month, lets organizations create applications that run unmodified across Google Cloud, third-party clouds and on-premises hardware.
“Anthos is an incredible opportunity,” Ward said, perhaps explaining his early start.
The Anthos demo box he’s creating is not a promotional stunt, Ward contended. The machine will let SADA Systems “bring a chunk of the cloud” to customers, allowing them to deploy containers and manage services. “I could leave it at an office and it would work and Google would patch it remotely and it would load balance between the cloud and [on-premises hardware],” he noted.
Ward sees an overarching opportunity to span the gap and reduce the friction between public clouds and the enterprise data center. Technology, he said, is transitioning to the intercloud, which will “blur the line between on-premises infrastructure and cloud infrastructure.” The intercloud concept envisions a cloud of clouds, following the precedent of the internet becoming a network of networks.
The corporate generation gap
The generation gap — as applied to enterprises — also opens an opportunity for SADA Systems, according to Ward. He said it’s possible to profile companies that are 5, 15 or 100 years old in the same way assumptions can be made about Generation X and millennials.
Companies within a particular age group “generally have some consistent way they approach technology,” Ward noted. He suggested younger companies may be adept at building a technology stack, but may struggle with other aspects of running a business. On the other hand, older firms may excel when it comes to building a strong balance sheet, but struggle with digital adoption.
SADA is in a position to “take a little of the experience from the digital natives and the most sophisticated technology consumers and bring it back to the [longer-established] businesses that are the most successful business operators in the world,” Ward explained. “Some of that bridging is going to be important.”
Keeping legacy in the loop
SADA Systems also stands to help its customers bridge the gap between legacy technologies and modern cloud-based platforms, Ward noted. The company’s differentiator, he said, is not the ability to read the “shiny and easy to understand manual for new technology,” but rather the capacity to connect the new with the old.
The mix of cloud, on-premises gear, decades-old systems and emerging technologies make for a varied technology environment. SADA’s objective is to work with clients on their complex topologies and find ways to take advantage of Google Cloud services, Ward said.
Your customers likely face a range of IT challenges, but cybersecurity issues may be their leading pain point.
A study released today from Insight Enterprises Inc., which polled 400 IT professionals, identified security as the main hurdle for digital innovation, the top data management concern and the biggest IT problem, overall. The results underscore the pressure on channel companies to address IT security.
Forty-eight percent of the Insight survey respondents ranked data security and privacy as their most pressing digital innovation challenge, topping upfront cost and expertise in new technology.
Security is also top-of-mind when it comes to the exploding volume of data customers must manage. In the Insight survey, 43% of the respondents cited “ensuring the security of data in dispersed environments” as their top challenge over the next three to five years in handling data growth. Upgrading data protection and recovery ranked second, with 41% of the respondents identifying that concern.
And more than half of the respondents identified cybersecurity issues as their main IT challenge and the “top pain point keeping them up at night.”
Insight, an IT solutions provider based in Tempe, Ariz., polled IT professionals at organizations ranging from 1,000 to more than 5,000 employees.
Additional data on cybersecurity issues comes from RSM US, the Chicago-based U.S. member of RSM International, a network of independent audit, tax and consulting firms. RSM US, working with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, commissioned the Harris Poll to survey 700 middle-market executives. Fifty-five percent of the survey takers said they believe a cyberattack on their data or systems is likely this year. That’s an uptick from the previous year’s survey in which 47% of those polled viewed cyberattacks as likely to occur in 2018.
“Larger middle market organizations continue to be most at risk for cybercrime, as many have high volumes of valuable data but don’t have the robust security resources of their large-cap peers, making them exceedingly attractive to cybercriminals,” RSM US noted.
Regarding attack vectors, social engineering and ransomware lead the list of mid-market cybersecurity issues. According to the RSM US survey, published earlier this month, 42% of middle-market executives reported “social engineering attempts on their organizations from outside parties.”
In addition, 20% of the executives said they had experienced a ransomware attack, while 35% of those polled said they know of someone who had been subject to ransomware.
The recognition of cybersecurity as a general threat and a hindrance to strategic initiatives suggests channel companies should be making security a core part of their portfolio of offerings. Companies lacking the resources to build a practice in this field should at least consider finding a partner that can provide cybersecurity services.
Dell Boomi said it will continue growing its partner program under the new Dell Technologies Partner Program.
The cloud integration platform vendor is one of the many Dell subsidiaries now housed within the Dell Technologies Partner Program, launched last week at the Dell Technologies World 2019 conference. Dell executives said the new program aims to enable channel firms to do business across Dell-owned companies and no plans are in play to shutter any of the subsidiaries’ legacy partner programs. Instead, those programs will continue to operate autonomously while functioning as part of the Dell Technologies Partner Program framework. The Dell Boomi partner program today engages about 300 firms worldwide, including resellers, referral partners, managed service providers, systems integrators, ISVs and OEMs.
“[About] 70% of our business is through our channel. That is high. We depend on working with those partners,” said David Tavolaro, vice president of global business development at Dell Boomi, in an interview.
Dell Technologies Partner Program sparks new relationships
Tavolaro said the Dell Technologies Partner Program has given Dell Boomi an opportunity to sign up new partners. Dell’s president of global channels, OEM and IoT solutions, Joyce Mullen, is helping Dell Boomi identify potential channel alliances.
“We are going to collectively look at the [channel companies] that we think would be good partners for Boomi, and they will just basically be assumed into Boomi’s program [and] have all the same training, benefits and requirements … within the program,” Tavolaro said.
Dell Boomi today is evaluating partners in the Dell Technology Program’s top tiers, Titanium and Titanium Black. The company will eventually expand to other tiers, he noted.
Dell Boomi partner program updates ahead
Looking ahead, he said Dell Boomi’s top challenge is having enough IT professionals certified on the Boomi platform. “Part of our responsibility is to make sure … [there are] enough people that are experts at implementing Boomi,” Tavolaro said.
Dell Boomi provides free online training for developer, architect and administrator certifications. The company last year marked a milestone of having 10,000 professionals certified.
“We want to have 15,000 certified people, and we hear [the need for certified Boomi professionals] in the market all the time,” he said.
As for the Dell Boomi partner program, Tavolaro said the company will introduce better transparency to give partners insight into their standing within the program. Additionally, the program will make it easier to access training, sales and support information. He said a revamped Dell Boomi partner program is slated to launch this year.
Dell Technologies partners have what they need to facilitate customers’ digital transformation journeys, according to VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger.
At the Dell Technologies Global Partner Summit, held this week in Las Vegas in conjunction with the Dell Technologies World user forum, Gelsinger took the stage to explain how channel partners can tap into the vendor’s portfolio to align with VMware’s priorities. The virtualization pioneer’s path forward, he said, will be focused on enabling customers’ digital transformation journeys in five areas.
Hybrid cloud architecture
Dell has made “tremendous progress over the last 18 months” integrating the technologies acquired through the 2016 EMC deal, Gelsinger said. One of the new integrations introduced at Dell Technologies World, the Dell Technologies Cloud Platform, uses the VMware Cloud Foundation software stack. With its aim of simplifying hybrid cloud deployment and management, Dell Technologies Cloud enables partners to support customers’ hybrid cloud environments, Gelsinger said.
Gelsinger pointed to an opportunity for partners to guide their customers through multi-cloud journeys. “Every one of your customers will have a multi-cloud environment,” he told Global Partner Summit attendees. He said VMware is positioning its CloudHealth cloud management platform as a tool for evaluating those environments.
Modern app development
The third area that Gelsinger discussed was enabling customers’ application development capabilities. Whereas for the last two decades the chief app development technology has been Java, the next consensus technology is Kubernetes and containers, he said. “Once again, we are committed to being on the front end of this technology,” he said. He said the Dell-owned open-source cloud platform as a service, Pivotal Cloud Foundry, is geared toward supporting customers’ app development initiatives. These initiatives have become increasingly vital as every business “needs to become a software entity if they are going to succeed in the digital environment,” he added.
Network and security environment
The NSX network virtualization platform is an area of continued investment and key to VMware’s path forward, he said. “In the hybrid cloud world, this idea of an end-to-end network that goes all the way to the edge with SD-WAN, to [the] core data center and to [the] cloud, is a critical component to enabling a multi-cloud, hybrid cloud future,” he noted. Gelsinger added that Dell and VMware will be looking to reduce customers’ reliance on a host of cybersecurity vendors by bolstering security capabilities within the Dell Technologies portfolio.
The digital workforce
Dell Technologies this week unveiled its Unified Workspace model for end user computing. “We have been working with Dell counterparts to build this underlayment of [VMware] Workspace One directly into the Dell client solutions,” he said. At Dell Technologies World, Dell executive Brett Hansen noted that Unified Workspace will look to address customers’ device deployment and management tasks without pushing partners out of customer relationships.
“[With] the portfolio of technologies that we have enabled, we uniquely with [Dell Technologies partners] can be the porters and guides for our customers and their digital transformation,” Gelsinger said.
Automation Anywhere in March 2018 launched its online Bot Store in the robotic process automation market. Now, the RPA vendor, based in San Jose, Calif., is encouraging ISVs and systems integrators to develop a new generation of bots that deliver significantly more value for customers.
The Bot Store currently offers more than 500 software bots and digital workers. Automation Anywhere defines bots as automating particular tasks and workflows and defines digital workers as automating “segments of defined job roles.” Customers have downloaded more than 50,000 bots and digital workers since the marketplace opened last year, according to Max Mancini, executive vice president, digital worker ecosystem, at Automation Anywhere.
Automation Anywhere said it is expanding opportunities for developers and integrators to generate recurring revenue through its Bot Store. The company’s bot-monetization plan initially will focus on the annual recurring revenue subscription model, but will eventually cover monthly recurring revenue and consumption-based models as well.
The monetization program aims to spark interest in building broader, more capable bots for the robotic process automation market. But the bot-makers also need assurance that their investments will be safeguarded. To that end, Bot Store vendors will be able to protect the intellectual property components of the bots and digital workers they sell, Mancini said. In addition, developers and integrators will be able to access Automation Anywhere’s global sales channel to reach a broader audience and tap the RPA vendor for invoicing.
The various additions to the bot marketplace will debut in early summer.
In the meantime, a couple of vendors are participating in an “early-adopter phase of building digital workers in anticipation of monetization kicking in,” Mancini said.
For example, TransformAI, a Hollywood, Calif., enterprise RPA provider, offers a number of Workday-related bots, including a Digital Workday Recruiting Assistant. HighIQ Robotics, based in San Jose, Calif, provides digital workers around Oracle — a Digital Oracle General Ledger Administrator, for instance.
The arrival of bot boutiques in the robotic process automation market creates new opportunities for integrators. Mancini said companies will be able to cultivate business beyond professional services and consulting work, noting that building software bots scales more effectively than services. Integrators working with multiple customers can uncover common pain points and create digital workers, as repeatable solutions, to address them.
“Systems integrators are in an interesting position,” Mancini said. “They see the use cases. Some of the more progressive SIs are thinking this [bot development] is a great way to expand the business.”