'Channel-First' IoT Security Startup Ordr Launches Partner Program

Led by former Aruba Networks executives, Ordr says its roots in channel-driven networking vendors makes it uniquely capable in how it helps partners identify and secure IoT devices on IT networks. 'They did a better job than any other tool we looked at in the market,' an executive at Logicalis says.


IoT security startup Ordr, whose top executives came from Aruba Networks, has launched a comprehensive, global partner program that aims to give solution providers multiple ways to make money in securing and controlling connected devices on corporate IT networks.

The Santa Clara, Calif. company announced the global expansion of the partner program for its artificial intelligence-based Systems Control Engine Monday after coming out of stealth mode last year with former Aruba Networks CEO Dominic Orr joining as chairman.

[Related: NetFoundry Sees Big IoT, Remote IT Play For Zero-Trust Networking]

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In an exclusive interview with CRN, Eric Berkman, a former Cisco Systems sales lead who is now Ordr's senior director of worldwide channel, said the company leadership's roots in channel-driven networking vendors makes Ordr uniquely capable in how it gives solution providers the resources they need to identify, segment and secure IoT devices using existing networking infrastructure.

"Understanding in depth the way we see the network is really what makes us unique," Berkman said.

In addition to Orr, the company's CEO Greg Murphy as well as co-founders Pandian Gnanaprakasam and Sheausong Yang were previously executives at Aruba Networks, which was acquired by Hewlett Packard Enterprise in 2015. Before that, Gnanaprakasam, who along with Yang also worked at Cisco, led the engineering team for Cisco's Wi-Fi business unit.

Berkman said Murphy — who worked at Aruba for nine years and was most recently CEO of marketing tech startup Zenreach — has told the company's employees multiple times that the "only way to get scale and acceleration is through the channel," which is how Ordr has worked from the start.

"Our sales organization has been channel-first since day one. And the people that we hire and we bring on board have incredible channel expertise and relationships and trust already in the channel," he said. "This has been a unique and really frankly fun way to grow the channel from the very beginning."

What makes Ordr's Systems Control Engine different from other IoT security solutions on the market is the company's "closed-loop process" for identifying and securing connected devices, according to Berkman. This means the software uses telemetry to identify devices and machine learning to establish normal behavior patterns, which are then used to automatically create segmentation policies.

Berkman said competitors stop at that last part, creating the extra work of having to build out network policies for different kinds of devices.

"One of the things that's amazing about what Ordr does is we can absolutely categorize, for example, all the IP cameras, all the industrial controllers, but then we then have the ability based on the geographical location to grab specific devices and alter the behavioral policy," he said.

One of the strengths of Ordr's software is that it uses the "native language" of the switches, firewalls and NACs within an organization's existing network infrastructure, according to Berkman.

"We present that data and say, not only we have we found this device, we want to use the existing security infrastructure or network infrastructure in the language that you have and start to segment these devices," he said. "Here are the firewall policies. Here are the network policies, network access control policies, and this is done in an automated touchless manner.”

As for Ordr's partner program, Berkman said it was designed to support "maximum flexibility for a variety of partner business models," which includes referral, assessment, authorized reselling and managed services. Other aspects of the program include ongoing technical and sales training, joint solution development and selling, multi-vendor infrastructure integrations and field marketing support. The company also provides plug-and-play demo kits, joint sales and marketing, account protection and what the company says is "generous" referral compensation.

Ahead of the public launch for Ordr's partner program, the company has already racked up several partners on its roster, including Logicalis, Guidepoint Security, Novacoast and NWN. Berkman declined to say how many partners Ordr has, but he said the program is currently invite only as the company is making quality of the partner mix a top priority.

"We're keenly focused to make sure that the revenue is of material nature to our partners," he said. "When you dilute the revenue, frankly, it's not a good business model for the partners."

Ron Temske, vice president of cybersecurity, network and modern workplace solutions at Logicalis, said his company, which was on the lookout for a solution to identify IoT devices on a network, decided to work with Ordr because of its ease of use as well as its ability to automatically generate access control lists and interpret protocols beyond IP like DICOM for medical equipment and Modbus for shop floors.

"They did a better job than any other tool we looked at in the market," he said.

With the ability to identify devices and track their behavior, Temske said Ordr can provide a range of expansion opportunities once customers are initially set up. While segmentation would be the most common next step, Ordr's Systems Control Engine could also pave the way for enhanced vulnerability management and enhanced behavioral analytics.

"It's somewhat circumstantial based on what are the behaviors and tendencies that we observe from Ordr, [which] may direct us in different directions," he said. "There's virtually no case where by gaining visibility into the environment, you don't uncover additional things that we can help the customer with, because they just were blind to that knowledge before."

Based on the opportunities Logicalis is seeing with Ordr, Temske said the two verticals with the most traction are manufacturing and healthcare — two areas that Berkman will be especially important to protect from disruptions in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

"The biggest recurring [revenue opportunities] comes from add-on opportunities and then opportunities for us to wrap managed services around the offer and turn it not just in into a product sale but a true, longer-term solution offering," Temske said.

Based on his work with Ordr so far, Temske said, the vendor is "willing to go above and beyond" to get partners involved in deals, which is shown in how the company works closely with partners on presentations and proposals. Temske said he's also in regular contact with Murphy, Ordr's CEO, which he thinks is a result of the company prioritizing quality over quantity for partners.

"It's probably why we're getting that attention, because I'm not competing with hundreds and hundreds of other partners for attention," he said.