Cloud Distribution to help resellers tackle 'whole kill chain' after winning CrowdStrike tender

Doug Woodburn
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Cloud Distribution to help resellers tackle 'whole kill chain' after winning CrowdStrike tender

Distributor claims CrowdStrike beats the likes of Cylance and Carbon Black by tackling next-generation AV, EDR, IT hygiene and managed hunting on one agent

Cloud Distribution has talked up CrowdStrike's ability to tackle the "whole kill chain" after being picked from a shortlist of three to be the end-point protection vendor's first UK distributor.

One of Silicon Valley's hottest properties, CrowdStrike bagged $100m in funding in 2015 and has so far amassed about 30 EMEA customers, including one UK customer with about 80,000 seats.

Although CrowdStrike is often mentioned in the same breath as the likes of Cylance and SentinelOne, it is about more than just next-generation anti-virus, Cloud Distribution director Adam Davison claimed.

"We have been looking for an end-point solution for a little while. We wanted to find a vendor that was able to address the whole kill chain," he explained.

"If you look at IT hygiene, you've got players such as Tanium. Cylance plays in next-gen anti-virus; in the EDR [end-point detection and response] space you've got people such as Carbon Black; and for the remediation piece Mandiant-FireEye," Davison said.

"Resellers want all these elements, but are having to sign multiple vendors to build a solution to take to customers, which is costly and takes time. CrowdStrike covers all those elements in a really simplistic way."

Mike East, vice president of EMEA at CrowdStrike, said the vendor heard proposals from three distributors before plumping for Cloud, which helped build the UK market for Meraki before it was acquired by Cisco, and also works with Check Point.

"We wanted a boutique distributor that really understood the cloud model," he said. "We've used the UK as a benchmark and will probably roll out distribution into some of the other [EMEA] regions."

CrowdStrike currently has over 20 UK customers - ranging from 100 to 80,000 seats - and five or six top-level UK partners, according to East.

CrowdStrike's flagship Falcon offering was recently certified by testing house AV-comparatives as a viable anti-virus replacement, which East said was one factor behind the need for distribution. 

"A huge addressable market has opened up for us, so the obvious choice was to work with distribution to get more partners to go after the AV replacement space," he said, adding, however, that many resellers will end up upselling other areas of the portfolio.

"Partners can go in with an AV replacement and with the same lightweight sensor can grow that customer into EDR, managed hunting and intelligence, and possibly into services," he said. "So there's a journey a reseller can take the customer on."

East continued his pitch: "Cylance is a good, credible company, and is very good at detecting malware using machine learning and AI. It's very much malware focused. And if you look at other organisations such as Tanium, they are all very good at what they do. But if you're a reseller, do you really want to sign up with each of them when you can come to CrowdStrike and cover all those disciplines through one lightweight sensor that's all cloud delivered? You don't have infrastructure to put on your shelves or to train engineers."

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Davison (pictured) said resellers can expect retained margins of between 25 and 35 point on a typical deal.

"We are limiting the number of partners to make sure we are not diluting the market," he said.

CrowdStrike's UK and EMEA headcount for sales and marketing is slated to more than double to 35 this year.

While fellow next-generation AV upstart Cylance has poured money into a high-profile UK marketing campaign, CrowdStrike is directing its budget purely towards raising its profile among UK businesses, East said.

"We are less interested in creating hype in the UK, which is our beachhead, and more interested in generating customers," he said. "The company is very pleased with the return we've got from the marketing budget they've given us."

Hayley Roberts, managing director of security VAD Distology, said she felt it is still unclear whether technologies in the EDR space such as CrowdStrike will hit the bigtime.

"We did Confer for a short period of time but the market wasn't ready for it yet, and then it was bought by Carbon Black," she said. "EDR needs distribution; it needs help in the marketplace because resellers are still very unaware of what it means. So this is a wise move for CrowdStrike. We wish Mike and his team the very best of luck."

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