Blancco CEO Matt Jones On Bringing Data Erasure To AWS, ServiceNow Marketplaces

The data erasure software firm is expanding its partnerships with major marketplaces as a way to ‘become part of something bigger’ and reach more solution providers, Jones says in an interview with CRN.


Data erasure software specialist Blancco is “getting even more aggressive” on channel as the company brings its solutions to marketplaces from Amazon Web Services and ServiceNow, moves that are strengthening existing partner relationships and leading to new ones, CEO Matt Jones said in an interview with CRN.

Blancco, which has major offices in Austin, Texas, and Finland, announced the launch of its Drive Eraser solution in the AWS Marketplace last July. It remains the only solution in the AWS Marketplace from a vendor that’s exclusively focused on data erasure, Jones said.

[Related: Third-Party Professional Services Added To AWS Marketplace]

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Then, earlier this month, Blancco launched its Secure Data Erasure app on the ServiceNow Store, the IT service management vendor’s app marketplace.

“I’m a big believer in building this ecosystem of partners,” Jones said. “If we can build up that ecosystem of partners which supports our channels, and supports the partners that are already part of [Blancco’s community], we become part of something bigger.”

Blancco provides software that erases data from hardware including servers, storage devices and mobile devices—and provides an audit trail proving the data has been removed.

The software can be used not just for erasing devices that are being decommissioned, but also for erasing specific data on certain assets—even if the devices are not reaching end of life.

Key drivers of Blancco’s business growth include demand for solutions enabling data security and the shift from data centers to the cloud, Jones said.

While Blancco has already been heightening its focus on managed services providers and other channel partners in recent years, “you’re going to see us take an even more aggressive approach to channels over the next couple years,” Jones said. “Channels continue to drive most of our new business. Most of our hiring and marketing programs are focused on channel. So we’re going to become much more aggressive, in the enterprise space specifically, with channel.”

What follows is an edited portion of CRN’s interview with Jones.

What sort of demand have you been finding for your solutions since the start of the pandemic?

Last April, May and June, we saw some slowdown. Everybody was just stopping—even enterprise, which has always been our fastest-growing space. They were like, “Let’s just get people home.” But since then, starting in our fiscal year last July—and then really I’d say over the last six months—we’ve seen demand pick up or even be greater than it had been in the past. We weren’t like Zoom, where the business just went crazy. But we’ve felt really good about the fact that our products have been needed. As soon as people got their employees set and working from home, and realized that this is going to be a longer term trend, our business came back pretty quickly. And we’ve been really happy with our growth. In fact we’ve been seeing some new use cases that weren’t there prior to COVID that will help drive the business. So the growth is back, and really enterprise is leading that growth.

What in particular is driving the demand in enterprise?

Clearly one of the new use cases we’ve seen is work from home. In the past, when most people worked from offices, they were behind corporate firewalls, they felt somewhat protected. But when they shifted to the home, suddenly they realized they’re a lot more vulnerable. One of the services we’ve had for the last two years, that really picked up, is erasure as a service. So you’re working from home now, and you’re a lawyer, and your files are very confidential. They want you to work on that, to work from home—but when you’re done with that, they want to erase that. A lot of corporations have been using our erasure as a service to go down and erase a specific file, so that they can feel more protected when people are away from a corporate firewall. Or, if an employee is sending back a PC because they’re done with it, they want to erase everything before it gets sent back. So there are a lot of work from home use cases that we’ve seen that are really important. But still our business is most driven out of data center, and the data center business really hasn’t changed. People still want to manage their data in the data center, a lot of people are moving to the cloud, they want to erase data [upon moving to the cloud]. Enterprise has continued and even picked up a little bit.

What are customers looking for from your solutions when they’re moving to the cloud?

When people want to move to a cloud, there’s a checklist of things they need to do. One of the things is they have all this data left over, and they don’t want to have it in two places. They don’t want that data around that really should be moved to the cloud. So it’s a natural partnership we’ve had with AWS, where they can include us as part of this checklist and say, “OK, you’ve got to do this, this and this—and all this data is left over in your own data center. Let’s now erase it.” So from that perspective it’s a natural partnership, because that’s just something you need to do, as good hygiene, to clean up the data that’s left behind.

Some of the data they want to keep forever, because some data is just super important. For a bunch, they don’t want to keep it, because there’s privacy or security issues with that. So it’s a matter of classifying the data, and then erasing it based on the importance, the security risk, the privacy or compliance issues.

Have you been continuing to focus on doing more with MSPs?

Yes, and we’ve made some announcements with global service integrators, too—for example, with Accenture. We’re taking a channel-first approach, especially in the enterprise. We think that’s the way to expand our business. That’s how you reach Fortune 2000, Fortune 5000 customers. So you’re going to see us take an even more aggressive approach to channels over the next couple years. Channels continue to drive most of our new business. Most of our hiring and marketing programs are focused on channel. So we’re going to become much more aggressive, in the enterprise space specifically, with channel.

Some of it is in the announcement of partnerships like the partnership with ServiceNow. I’m a big believer in building this ecosystem of partners. And as you build the ecosystem—we may have a relationship for example with Carahsoft, which we made an announcement on. Well, Carahsoft has an interesting relationship with AWS. So if we can build up that ecosystem of partners which supports our channels, and supports the partners that are already part of [Blancco’s partner community], we become part of something bigger. The same thing with ServiceNow—ServiceNow has a big partnership, for example, with Accenture. We have a relationship with both. As we build ecosystem partners, they support our channels, and then our channels support our ecosystem—there’s a nice synergy we see between that. But I just think tactically, our marketing spend, our hiring is going more toward channels than it is towards direct—because we just think that’s how to support [customers] better.

How is it benefiting your channel partners for you to work with these marketplaces, such as AWS and ServiceNow?

It’s three things. One is it makes procurement more efficient. If you’re part of a marketplace, you’re already written into the contract. So for us and our partners, it makes the buying process easier because a lot of it’s already pre-baked into a marketplace agreement we have. That’s whether it’s ServiceNow or AWS or any others. Also, you can become part of a bigger budget. Sometimes they may not have a line item for data erasure, but they probably have a line item for ServiceNow or for AWS. So we become part of a bigger budget that you can attach that to. And I think third is, most of our partnerships are part of making something more efficient. ServiceNow is a great example. ServiceNow makes everything more efficient, and if we can be part of that workflow product that’s already there, it makes the product easier to sell. So we’re trying to make it easier to sell, easier to implement, easier to buy. All those things come from being part of marketplaces, and really help us and help our channels sell.

Why is your software a good fit for the AWS and ServiceNow marketplaces?

We always try to find partners, whether it’s AWS or ServiceNow, where we’re important to them. With AWS, for example, they want to move everybody to AWS. And we want to help them do that. If we can make it easier to move from your own data center to AWS, and we can take the risk away, then we can fit into what’s important to them. For ServiceNow, they really want to automate the lifecycle management of a piece of equipment. In a bunch of places, we can help them. So if you leave your job, and they want to give your PC to somebody else, they probably use ServiceNow to take that piece of equipment from you and give it to your colleague. They can implement us automatically, where they can erase that—so they take all the data off that’s important to you and to the company, and give the PC to a new colleague. We can help automate that. So the things they’re trying to do in lifecycle equipment, we help them do that by erasing the data. From that perspective, we think we fit into some of their key initiatives for this year or the next two years.

Are you recruiting new solution provider partners through working with these marketplaces?

Yes. First it’s deepening our partnership with our current partners—because many of our partners might already work with these new strategic partners we’ve announced. But it’s also absolutely to get to new partners. Maybe there’s a partner that didn’t see us as the right channel partner, and now suddenly we’re part of ServiceNow or AWS or others, and they suddenly want to work with us. So it’s deepening our relationship with current partners, and then finding new ones that allow us to expand out.

Are you looking at moving into additional marketplaces, such as Microsoft?

There are others we want to get into. We’re trying to be careful, because it’s easy to announce partnerships, but it’s hard to pull them off. But Microsoft is clearly one that would be interesting to us, given their footprint in enterprise space and what they do. Microsoft would be a natural one that we’d want to think about, and there are probably a couple of others. I think what you‘ll see is us go out for one or two more of these marketplaces a year, to build this ecosystem that’s important to us.