Former Blue Coat Exec Heads Centrify Channel For Single Sign-On

Centrify's business has been mainly focused on direct sales, but the company is investing in transforming its program to embrace channel sales. The vendor is working on building brand recognition, enabling partners through marketing initiatives and providing support through the sales process, said Nathan Adams, the company's new North America channel chief.

"We spend a lot of time focusing on business planning, enablement, executive and engineering alignment," Adams said. "This is such a hot technology, and I believe that we can take our current strategy and bring it into the channel and create and mature a program to put in front of these customers."

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Centrify sells a server suite for Active Directory-based authentication, access control and role-based privilege management for enterprises. The software has sold well, Adams said, but a greater attention is being placed on the new SaaS edition of its single sign-on platform for cloud-based applications such as Office 365, and WebEx. The company also provides a complimentary mobile security management component for the suite.

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Adams was named director of North America channels in July. He was director of North America mid-market sales at Web content filtering vendor Blue Coat Systems and led its federal channel program before a private equity firm acquired it in 2011. At Centrify, Adams said his focus will be on boosting enablement activities and lead generation.

The company is recruiting new partners around its SaaS offering aimed at small and midsize businesses, Adams said. There may be potential for partners specializing in data center technologies to cross-sell into cloud-based single sign-on, he said. Partners that make a good fit may concentrate on specific verticals or be managed service providers, he said. Smaller regional partners or consulting firms have also been strong resellers in the past as well, he said.

"We want to make sure partners that are selling our data center pieces are also selling SaaS, but we recognize that it can be a completely different customer," Adams said.

The company's channel program currently focuses on affiliate partners, authorized resellers and distributors. Affiliate partners get rewards for referring potential deals to Centrify. Authorized partners must register at least one opportunity per quarter, and the company plans to build a tier structure around the program. Authorized partners are required to have two certified sales representatives and one engineer. Free sales and engineering training is provided. The company also provides evaluation software for demonstration and customer trials.

Centrify has been strong in the data center where companies are dealing with authentication on the corporate network, said Jeff Dobbelaere, vice president of technical sales and support at Tallahassee, Fla.-based Mainline Information Systems. Single sign-on with SaaS-based applications is gaining interest, Dobbelaere said.

"A lot of businesses want to ensure that there are granular controls for user access as well as reporting and auditing, and this is one way to do that," Dobbelaere said.

Centrify is maturing its sales model, giving partners an opportunity to differentiate themselves with multitier levels, Dobbelaere said. A greater investment on Centrify's part typically means more discounting, which makes the channel happy, he said.

Adams said Centrify's deal registration program offers a standard discount. Under the Think Centrify rewards program, partners earn points for each milestone after a deal is registered as well as cash rewards throughout the sales process. Registered deals must be a minimum of $30,000 or sized at about 75 servers, the company said. The top three partner sales representatives will also be rewarded with prizes valued at nearly $10,000.

"I'll be making sure that we're going to our partners with a program where they can see the benefits of us helping them increase their revenue and profit," Adams said. "We'll go cradle to the grave with the partner that has invested time and resources in locking in a deal."