Skyport Systems Launches Channel To Bring To Market Ultra-Secure Servers

Skyport Systems came out of stealth about two months ago to unveil an ultra-secure system architecture. On Wednesday, the Silicon Valley startup launched a channel program to bring to market what it says are the most secure servers of their class.

Phil Alexander, Skyport's channel lead, told CRN that the company already has several partners selling its hardened servers to customers, and is looking to recruit more solution providers to deliver both on-premise systems and managed services.

"We're seeing the beginning of recognition that there's so much exposure in how workloads and applications can be attacked. We're really at the frontier of that evolution of system technology," Alexander told CRN.

[Related: Skyport Systems Emerges From Stealth With Hyper-Secure Converged Server]

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While Skyport's servers are designed to be impenetrable -- locked down from the hardware to every layer of the stack -- the company's ideal partner isn't necessarily a security specialist, he said.

"Trying to define a partner profile is challenging," Alexander said. "We're partnering with a bunch of different partner types."

Alexander, a channel veteran at Cisco, Apple and Cobalt Networks, joined the Mountain View, Calif.-based company in February to start crafting the channel program and selecting the right partners. It's an essential process for a business that's already secured $37 million in funding -- a big bet from Sutter Hill Ventures -- and is going to market exclusively through the channel.

Most Skyport partners will have experience with converged architecture. Beyond that, "they're not necessarily security experts, but are being asked by customers, who are reading the headlines, if they will be the next cyberattack victims," Alexander said.

That group will include large national resellers and strong regional resellers who have expertise across different fields and can target verticals like banks, insurance companies and law firms that are increasingly concerned about breaches.

"Security vendors are getting really strong traction in the channel," Alexander said, "so I look for a partner who has a fairly good spread between bellwether networking, switching, storage."

Some of the partners already signed developed relationships with Alexander and other Skyport execs from their days at Cisco, Juniper and Arista.

"There's also a value-add to the channel partner beyond simple reseller to make the transition to being a managed security provider," he said.

Skyport knows that with any new class of solution, customers and partners need some time to develop a comfort level, according to the company.

The company said it is happy to allow potential customers to conduct remotely managed proof-of-concepts for a few weeks to test out payloads, metrics, platforms and reporting without committing to on-site installations.

Skyport will also ship a proof-of-concept unit to customers without holding its resale partners bound to restrictive purchase orders.

"In the first year of the life cycle, we really want to get it out to customers," Alexander said.

In that vein, Skyport is also developing a loan-to-own program. The company will also soon launch a partner portal containing a reference library to coach partners on how to register deals and sell the product. Partners earn healthy margins on both initial sales and renewals, Alexander told CRN.

Alexander said he expects 10 partners to be signed by the time the product is launched globally; currently, there are 10 more systems integrators, VARs and distributors in the pipeline.

David Gottesman, CEO of Epic Machines, a solution provider based in San Francisco that partnered with Skyport, told CRN that the company offers "one of the very few security technologies that cuts through all the noise."

Most cloud services are built to manage security at "a very external layer," he said.

"But if anything bad is going on, it's going on on the server, period," Gottesman told CRN.

Skyport locks down a server's core functionality, Gottesman said, adding that he's astonished no other server manufacturer has engineered a system of that type.

"If you asked an IT manager to go buy a server to put it in a hostile environment, out of his control, and make it as secure as he possibly could, that would be a really difficult task, but something that needs to be done, especially with escalating attacks," Gottesman said. "And that's what these guys have done."

"I'm not selling it because I make a lot of margin, I'm selling it because my customers need it," he said.