Guidance Software Boosts Channel Focus With Partner Program Launch

Guidance Software is undergoing a major channel shift with the roll out of a comprehensive partner program that promises to give partners tools and support to offer beefed-up niche services around their products.

The Pasadena, Calif.-based Guidance Software bolstered its newly launched channel program with features that included a partner portal, lead generation capabilities, joint marketing funds and a deal registration program, as well as enhanced channel sales personnel and infrastructure and margin guarantees.

The company is also beefing up its nationwide channel team, dedicated specifically at the director level for programs and operations, executives said.

"We've always relied on relationships in the field to find and identify deals. But without a channel and account manager, they tend to not happen," said Allison Ash, vice president of worldwide channels for Guidance Software. "We had the scaffolding, but now we have a full building. It has all the bells and whistles."

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Now, Guidance Software, which specializes in eDiscovery, incident response and forensics, is aiming to expand its reach and augment its partner base, targeting security VARs with services capabilities and niche forensic specializations. Altogether, the company is looking to recruit a "few dozen" national and regional VARs, but is "not looking to boil the ocean. We really want to enable them with tools, programs, and sales resources in the field," Ash said.

"We help our partners augment their solutions. We fill in a gap in layered security -- we don't replace layered security," she added. "Responding to threats quickly is a fundamental need for companies. We enable partners with the tools to do that."

Subsequently, the company is looking for partners to target markets that have a growing need for eDiscovery and incident response, with inroads in the company's key verticals such as government, financial and PCI-related industries.

Existing Guidance partners say that the new channel program launch is a good move for the company, and one which promises to alleviate prior tensions within the channel base created by its previous reliance on a direct sales model.

Benjamin Stephan, director of incident management for Fishnet Security, said that in the past, Guidance was "challenging" for partners, featuring a direct sales model that offered customers cheaper products directly from the manufacturer. The partner program launch indicates a major shift that realigns focus on the reseller partner, he said.

"We've spoken to them. That will not happen anymore. They're really pushing toward the channel, and it's their goal to make it worthwhile," he said. "They're really starting to address the true concerns of what the program needs."

Next: Partners Say Services Opportunities A Big Hook

Stephan said that that he anticipated that some internal territorial issues and internal conflict would likely have to be addressed down the road as the company transitions to an indirect sales model.

"They're going to have to deal with the hurdles and headaches there. They've got to change the mindset of their sales team to be a supportive role to the channel," he said.

In addition, the company is kicking off its partner program rollout with the launch of Encase Cybersecurity, a security module of the Encase platform designed to detect and expose advanced malware threats, with capabilities that allow partners to analyze the threat and wipe it from their customers' system.

Stephan, who oversees all forensic investigations for Fishnet, said that the new Cybersecurity module fulfills a growing niche in the industry and adds to Guidance's established portfolio of eDiscovery and forensic products.

However, Stephan said that one of the biggest hooks is the ability to wrap a slew of services around the product, such as deviation assessment and incident response. While Guidance has previously overseen basic services such as installation, the company has fallen short in providing specialized security services that complement the product, he said.

"Their services are around the product. Their expertise in a breach or the security realm isn't as strong as ours," Stephan said. "That's where we can fill that gap."