CRN Exclusive: Skybox Security Appoints First-Ever Channel Chief, Goes All-In On MSSP, Systems Integrator Ecosystems

Skybox Security has tapped a longtime executive and former systems integrator CEO to be its first-ever global channel chief in preparation for a new managed security service provider and systems integrator program.

The San Jose, Calif.-based cybersecurity management and analytics firm has named Vice President of Cybersecurity Sales and eight-year Skybox veteran Uri Levy as its inaugural channel chief. Levy told CRN he hopes to double the company's base of MSSPs in the next year while slashing the time to initial revenue for new channel partners by between 30 percent and 40 percent.

"I know the channel business from multiple directions, both from a being a partner and the vendor point of view," said Levy, who ran Israeli system integrator Netcom Systems for two years. "The channel is a very fundamental piece of our strategy."  

[Related: 30 Cool New Security Products And Solutions Launched At RSA 2016]

Levy said he hopes to grow Skybox's share of North American business growing through the channel from 70 percent today to more than 80 percent by the end of 2018. Skybox works exclusively through the channel in Asia-Pacific and Europe, the Middle East and Africa, according to Levy.

As Skybox realigns its channel program from local and regional resellers to global systems integrators and other emerging partners, the company wanted to ensure it has a consistent approach to channel sales regardless of geography, said company CEO Gidi Cohen.

Skybox today works with between 20 and 30 MSSP partners on a highly customized, case-by-case basis, Levy said. But the vendor plans to develop a more structured, programmatic approach where MSSP partners will have access to not only technology, but also training, certifications and marketing collateral, according to Levy.

Levy expects the new program will dramatically reduce the time between when a channel partner signs its initial contract with Skybox and the first revenue it receives from an end customer. He would like to see the time to revenue for large, tier-one partners come in consistently at nine months, with time to revenue for midsize channel partners consistently clocking in at five months.

Skybox is looking to add MSSPs that service midsize to large organizations with sprawling and complex networks, defined compliance and governance needs, and the desire to orchestrate and automate many security functions.

The company's sweet spot is MSSPs that provide a holistic set of services ranging from firewalls, gateways and security management to endpoint, vulnerability and risk scoring of IT assets, according to Levy.

Skybox has long been a fundamental piece of software in helping large systems integrators demonstrate governance and security as part of a network outsourcing deal with large customers, according to Levy. Skybox's technology can be a very powerful tool for systems integrators that are dealing with complicated projects involving a lot of integration, Levy said.

The company has developed a new certification path for systems integrators that includes two online training components and three face-to-face, trust-based training, according to Levy. By the end of March, Skybox plans to add a cloud-based testing lab so that partners can test Skybox's technology before going live with customers.

Skybox plans to beef up its advisory services for systems integrators so that they can have broad, intelligent discussions with the CISO and other C-suite executives around strategic security transformation projects, according to Levy. The company also plans to assist systems integrators with matters such as GDPR compliance and industrial processes, Levy said.

Skybox works with between 50 and 60 large systems integrators today, and is more focused on deepening its relationships and increasing revenue from existing partners than growing the size of its systems integrator partner base.

"We are providing a very consistent, very simple, very powerful program," Levy said. 

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