StackPath Exec: Enterprise Products In The Pipeline Will Drive Channel Strategy

StackPath, the still secretive security startup from SoftLayer founder Lance Crosby, made a splash earlier this week upon emerging from stealth to reveal a massive initial funding round of $180 million.

Even before that public debut, StackPath was already selling a portfolio of four security services to more than 30,000 customers brought into its realm through three acquisitions. But the company, based in Dallas, Texas, hadn't engaged the channel in bringing those offerings to market.

That will change once another round of security products more geared toward the enterprise market are introduced to the portfolio either later this year or early next year, including a machine learning engine for performing threat detection, Chief Revenue Officer Steven Canale told CRN.

[Related: SoftLayer's Lance Crosby Calls It Quits With IBM]

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As the product lineup swells with those enterprise-facing security services, the company expects to start building a channel and working with service providers and systems integrators, Canale said.

"Down the road, when we start deploying this machine learning engine that proactively detects threats and security concerns, that is something we feel the enterprise market is going to be much more interested in, and that’s something I see the channel really helps us get into," Canale said.

The startup isn't ready yet to discuss technologies in the pipeline beyond the machine learning engine. But it understands that "working with the channel is going to be more beneficial" than its current direct, mostly inside sales approach for bringing to market its existing batch of developer-oriented products, he told CRN.

StackPath also hasn't yet decided how it will obtain those enterprise products.

"Where we can acquire, we'll go that route," Canale said. "If it's not something we feel we can reasonably acquire, it's something we will build internally."

With its almost unprecedented stockpile of venture cash, StackPath has already completed three acquisitions to build its first product: a secure content delivery service.

But for all the publicity it's received due to the funding, acquisitions, and the name recognition of Crosby, who built SoftLayer into a cloud powerhouse and sold it to IBM in 2013, StackPath is still keeping a low profile—representatives answering the main phone line identified the company as MaxCDN, a Los Angeles-based content delivery network provider that StackPath acquired.

In addition to MaxCDN, StackPath purchased Fireblade, an Israeli web application firewall developer, and Cloak, a VPN provider. The company also developed software in-house to fight off distributed denial of services (DDOS) attacks.

All the technologies, except for the Cloak VPN, have been integrated into a single offering, Canale told CRN.

The company says its ultimate vision is to assemble a "suite of mission-critical security Web services" that will share information processed through a machine learning engine that "increasingly improves its threat posture."

’It effectively deputizes each service on the host network with the authority to identify and communicate real-time threats against it to an intelligent data repository," according to a company statement.

Applications, micro-services, and Internet of Things devices will be able to access those services via APIs.

Chris Elgaaen, director of security solutions at Sycomp, a Foster City, Calif.-based security specialist that is familiar with Crosby through its partnership with IBM, said the former SoftLayer CEO chose a hot market to target with his new venture.

But while companies are increasingly concerned about securing their cloud environments, the market is extremely competitive, Elgaaen said.

’StackPath will be going up against some of the leading security players with this approach," Elgaaen said. "Their success may well depend on how they are able to coexist in an environment with some of those established players."

If the StackPath offering requires enterprise clients to manage security policies separately from their existing environment, gaining market share will be challenging, he said.

Elgaaen said he's interested to see how the channel will ultimately participate in the startup's strategy.

"SoftLayer was also historically a direct model," he told CRN. "It could be the focus is really on young, born-on-the-web companies."

StackPath's Series A round included $150 million from ABRY Partners, a private equity firm, and another $30 million from unnamed investors close to the company's founders.