Digital Guardian is taking the next step to becoming a channel-first company with the announcement on Wednesday of the launch of a new global partner program.
The new Synergy Global Partner Program creates a unified partner program for Digital Guardian partners. The program has three tiers: Authorized, Gold and Platinum, each with corresponding incentives and margins for partners.
Vice President of Global Channels Marcus Brown said the new program takes the best pieces of Digital Guardian's regional programs around the world and combines them into a single, global partner program. The revamp includes a new partner portal, which has been in beta with select partners and will be available Wednesday.
The new partner program includes marketing development funds, which gold and platinum partners can access through the new partner portal. Brown said Digital Guardian has "really ramped up" its marketing resources and messaging for partners, something he expects will be a "big driver" in the year to come. The portal also allows for deal registration and business planning, the latter of which lets customers review what worked in the past year and develop a strategy for the year to come.
Brown said a big focus of the new partner program will be training, which is available for partners of all three tiers of the new program. Brown said that training will include online, face-to-face, and webinars. That includes training partners to deliver services deploying the Digital Guardian solution, Brown said. He said primarily platinum and gold partners will be offered an accelerated and more focused training around services delivery, an area he said is a "big revenue opportunity" for partners. Brown said the training is "essential" as the company looks to compete against other companies in the market like Symantec and Forcepoint.
"What we have felt is a critical need to feel comfortable to speak with their existing customers about DLP… If we can enable them and motivate them and give them the tools to have a dialogue with their customer that will spark a lot interest quickly," Brown said.
The partner program builds on a three-year journey Digital Guardian has been on to turn its business from direct to partner-led, starting with the launch of the first iteration of the Synergy Partner Program at that time. Since then, Brown said Digital Guardian's channel has grown significantly, now accounting for 100 percent of its sales internationally and more than three-quarters of its sales in the US. He said most new deals in the US are now initiated through the channel.
In addition to clear rules of engagement policies for all employees, Brown said Digital Guardian has also expanded its dedicated channel team. He said the company added four employees in the U.S. so far this year, including three new channel managers. It has also appointed a new North American channel chief in former FireEye exec John Quinn, who joined the company in July. He said the company has also hired a director of EMEA channels and a channel account manager in Europe, bringing the total channel headcount in the region to three.
"We're looking to take that forward into the new year even further," Brown said. "We're very committed, and we have excellent growth in the channel … We're hoping this program will take us to the next step where the channel is really going to generate a lot of opportunity for us … and enabling the channel as well to take more advantage of the revenue opportunities for them."
John Marler, CEO of Houston, TX-based Set Solutions, said his business has partnered with Digital Guardian for around three years. During that time, he said he has seen the company transform its business from a direct to a channel business. He said Set Solutions has "done very well in the channel with them," citing good margins on deals and a strong technology for DLP.
"I'm very pro Digital Guardian," Marler said. "We like our go to market with those guys. They are doing the right things to address the channel right now."
Marler said Digital Guardian has reinforced that partnership opportunity with the launch of a managed model a year and a half ago, which allows partners to sell its DLP solution as a managed service. He said that is "incredibly compelling" He said the security vendor also has recruited some top-notch channel talent, including North American channel chief Quinn.
Brown said the partner program launch comes at a key time for partners, as attention on data protection solutions is at an all-time high as breaches continue to challenge businesses of all sizes. He said Digital Guardian has seen 50 percent sales growth year over year for the past three years as a result, as more customers recognize they need to move away from perimeter security to embrace data security.
Brown said consolidation in the DLP space has left few leading standalone vendors in the space: Digital Guardian, Forcepoint, and Symantec. He said the latter two companies have been though multiple acquisitions recently and have broad portfolios beyond DLP, instead of focusing on the technology.
"[Data breaches have] been escalating over the last couple of years quite dramatically. We're really at a time now where the awareness of what data breaches mean to companies and their customers is [at an all-time high]," Brown said. "We have the right combination of people process and technology around the channel program that we will take it to the next level," he said.