As the security market grows in complexity, vendors are throwing their weight behind partners that can demonstrate a strong professional services pedigree.
None more so than
which has spent recent years diversifying from its roots in web filtering into
higher-end technologies, such as data leakage prevention.
Websense last week revealed that 2e2, Vistorm and GSS are the first three UK resellers in the final stages of the selection process for its new invitation-only Enterprise Alliance Framework (EAF) partner category.
Sitting above the previous top-level Platinum tier, EAF partners are designed to act as an extension of Websense’s own sales force, explained Didier Guibal, executive vice president of worldwide sales.
Guibal said Websense will increasingly side with partners that can offer professional services around its complete portfolio.
“We have come from the web filtering space and have 70 per cent market share there,” Guibal explained.
“Web filtering is commoditising very fast. But we also do essential information protection and that is very new. The idea is to move the customer beyond the first point of entry. This model means we need to have one voice into the customer from a channel partner perspective. We need to support partners that can do both our commodity offering and the high-value stuff.”
There are just 11 EAFs globally including eight in the US but Websense intends to have 50 by the end of 2010. This would include about six in the UK.
Darren Antill, director at Vistorm, said: “Any programme that helps and
protects organisations like Vistorm that have made significant investments with
Websense will draw up joint business plans with each EAF partner, making it more of a loose framework than a rigid programme, Guibal said. In return, they will net higher margins on registered deals and, more importantly, will be tightly aligned with Websense’s own teams.
“We want to spend more effort on those committed to delivering what matters to the customer,” he said.
Guibal was appointed in July and has made sweeping changes to Websense’s European management line-up as part of a global restructuring drive. This includes the departure of senior director for UK and Ireland Pat Dunne and his counterparts in the Netherlands and France.
Guibal stressed that the vendor is considering both external and internal candidates to replace Dunne, and could even recruit from outside the security industry.
“We are looking for someone with a deep understanding of the channel and the direct touch model - this is more fundamental than having an understanding of the security industry,” he said.
UK partners are being overseen by Guibal and Geoff Haggard, but Guibal indicated he hoped a replacement for Dunne would be found before Christmas.
David Hobson, managing director of GSS, said he was impressed with what Guibal had to say.
“He was interested to hear our challenges as much as our successes,” he said. “There are some challenges that our industry faces, such as a lack of professionalism, and he wants to face them.
“All software vendors must look at how they maintain professionalism in the channel and the stuff that I have heard from Websense about professionalism and working together is what the industry needs.”
Websense made far-reaching changes to its distribution strategy under Dunne,
DNS Arrow and incentivising distributors to focus on SME business.
Guibal said the priority now is to establish pan-European partnerships with its larger distributors. In the UK, Websense works through global firms Computerlinks and Bell Micro, as well as UK-only e92plus.
“Websense is a $250m, 1,500-strong firm and we are the only [security vendor of that size] without pan-European contracts with the distributors,” he said. “We have five contracts in Europe with Computerlinks, while our competitors work under the umbrella of one contract.”
Dave Ellis, e-security director at Computerlinks, said: “Websense has a fragmented distribution channel across Europe and is not really using the economies of scale of bigger firms like Computerlinks. It makes sense for it to look at rationalisation.”
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