Nicolas Capitoni, head of EMEA channels and alliances at Open Systems discusses channel strategy and helping partners through the pandemic
Can you explain Open Systems' core offering in the channel?
We provide our channel partners with two extremely compelling offerings to meet the networking and security needs of their enterprise customers: our Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) and Managed Detection and Response (MDR) services.
Our MDR service is particularly compelling for partners as it enables them to enter the lucrative security category and participate in its recurring revenue model. Its ability to identify and contain cyberthreats - without requiring enterprises to invest in their own SOCs - is extremely attractive to our partners' enterprise customers, especially with so many of their employees currently working from home. The service is an easy sell for partners as we manage the backend and their staff don't require any lengthy certifications. It's also a comprehensive solution, so partners don't have to sell and integrate multiple point products. However, the service does provide partners with a great opportunity to cross sell complementary services, like penetration testing, vulnerability testing and compliance certifications.
The work from home (WFH) trend increased dramatically due to COVID, but this new way of working will continue, even when we go back to normal. This will require companies to implement a long-term strategy to enable remote working with security at the center of everything. This is why we partner with Microsoft and the E5 ecosystem to achieve the goal of authorizing, assessing and authenticating every user, device and application.
Our SASE service is likewise attractive to channel partners. Enterprise interest in this new architecture that integrates software-defined networking with comprehensive security has exploded due the pandemic. It's also a managed service so partners get to participate in the recurring revenue model. Additionally, like our MDR service, it's a comprehensive solution so channel partners won't have to endure the complexity of selling and integrating multiple point products.
What is the benefit to partners working with Open Systems over competitors?
Unlike virtually all of our competitors, Open Systems is a proven and mature global leader in the networking and security industries with over 30 years' experience. Our success is demonstrated by our 97% customer retention rate and a Net Promoter Score of 68. Partners can be assured they have chosen a reliable partner in Open Systems.
Our cloud-based SASE and MDR solutions are complete, 100% fully managed services, so partners can focus on adding a layer of intelligence.
Complementing these services are the exceptional analytics capabilities we offer thanks to the team of data scientists in our AI Unit.
Additionally, the highly experienced architects, engineers and developers of our Cloud Unit can provide extensive consulting and implementation services to ensure our partners' customers success.
We are also a Microsoft Gold partner and part of the Microsoft Intelligent Security Association (MISA), an ecosystem of independent software vendors that have integrated their solutions.
Partners can also benefit from our relationship with Equinix to support customers hybrid and multi-cloud deployments and requirement to connect globally to SAP HANA, OCI, Ali Baba and others.
The lessons we've learned over 30 years have enabled us to continually improve the NOC/SOC at the heart of services, leading to world-class 24x7 L3 support, staffing security and networking experts with over 500 years of combined experience. This doesn't happen overnight, so all the providers trying to get into the security business with managed service capabilities right now have decades of catching up to do.
Unlike the many providers claiming to deliver managed services, we have actually done so for three decades. And our partners are excited! As Ray Bricknell, the managing director of Behind Every Cloud, independent vendor and technology procurement advisors, told me "the fact that your SOC is staffed with security and networking experts 24x7 supporting 10,000 nodes while responding to requests and issues within seconds is incredible."
Can you talk through the key components of your channel programme?
Ensuring partners fully understand the unique capabilities, advantages and selling propositions for our products and services is naturally key for us. We do this, in part, by making training material available to them. Also, we strive to keep partners informed with the most up-to-date information in a variety of ways. This includes holding regular meetings, participating in virtual events, an active LinkedIn group, newsletters and videos that deliver the latest information regarding the company and our products and services.
Last, but certainly not least, we offer a very attractive SPIFF for our EMEA partners.
What is your channel strategy for the UK and the rest of Europe?
Our strategy for the UK is to focus on supporting our top master agents Avant, Telarus and others, along with their strategic sub-agents, as they make substantial investments to build up their security practices. We are also supporting them as they recruit new sub-agents in EMEA to expand their reach beyond the UK. Additionally, we are investing heavily in our reseller program focused on VARs, MSPs and SIs, and are also expanding our consultancy relationships.
How have you helped partners through an unprecedented 2020?
Our cloud-native Secure Remote Access (SRA) solution has played a vital role in the business continuity plans of many of our partners' customers since the COVID-19 outbreak began. SRA has enabled as many as 280,000 employees of our customers to remotely and securely access the data and applications vital to performing their jobs while remaining safely in their homes - and without creating vulnerabilities that cybercriminals can exploit to penetrate critical systems, hijack accounts and access potentially priceless data.
Microsoft Azure customers in particular took advantage of SRA's virtual deployment option and in just a few hours were securely connecting their home-bound employees, minimizing the disruption to their operations.
Unlike most remote access solutions, we offer SRA as a managed service that includes holistic technical consulting, rapid setup and deployment, customer portal access and continuous lifecycle management.
What do you consider to be the biggest challenges facing the channel in 2021?
Increasing their share of the lucrative managed services market is a top challenge that all VARs and distributors throughout EMEA are eager to achieve in 2021. They're doing this by shifting from a "resell box and add managed services on top" model to a "find the best MSP and add a layer of smart services on top" model.
We also anticipate that the COVID situation will remain a challenge for the first half of the year and will continue making it difficult to interact in-person with our partners and to meet, nurture and entertain our joint customers. However, we expect this situation to improve throughout the year as vaccination efforts worldwide accelerate. We're looking forward to things returning to normal and to having face-to-face meetings with our partners and their enterprise customers.
Open Systems is the preeminent cybersecurity and connectivity provider for the enterprise cloud. Open Systems relieves enterprises of the operational headaches as they securely scale in the cloud. Our services combine 24×7 expertise with an intelligent platform to predict, prevent, detect and respond to cyberthreats so enterprises can thrive.
About Nicolas Capitoni
Nicolas Capitoni leads the Open Systems European channel and alliance programme dedicated to master agents, sub-agents, resellers, system integrators, MSPs, VARs and consulting firms. Prior to joining Open Systems in the fall of 2018, Nico served as a director of sales for Masergy Communications, a software-defined networking services company providing secure hybrid networking, managed security and cloud communications. At Masergy, he focused on Southern Europe. In addition, Nico previously held positions at Forrester Research and Frost & Sullivan where he concentrated on market intelligence and technical insights and analysis. Through his consulting experience, Nico gained expertise in supporting the digital transformation of large European corporations including Airbus, LVMH, Renault and more. He lives in Zurich, Switzerland together with his wife and son.