Security Analytics Startup Looks To MSPs, Cloud Partners For Growth

The head of an early-stage security analytics company has a well-thought-out strategy for partnerships moving ahead amid what he called accelerating demand for smarter approaches to security.

Austin, Texas-based SparkCognition is just about a year old and has established partnerships with IBM Watson, SoftLayer and Power, and while most of its sales currently are direct, Founder, President and CEO Amir Husain is already in the beginning stages of building out the company's channel.

"We do utilize the channel," he told CRN. "I think early on with any startup it's important to have relationships with customers, but we are starting to build out our channel partnerships, and there are actually a number of folks in the U.S. and Asia we'd like to work with."

[Related: 10 Reasons Why IBM Watson Matters To The Channel]

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SparkCognition's technology is a cognitive analytics system that uses algorithms to ingest structured and unstructured data to predict when a system might fail or if it's been compromised. It anticipates a potential threat and doesn't require a human being to program those kind of smarts like what is required for signature-based security.

It's representative of a movement away from the traditional if-then-else concept of programming by which humans manually generate every possibility and judge a set of conditions.

"Because of the amount of data that's out there, if-then-else simply doesn't address it," Husain said. "And these kinds of self-evolving, learning systems are a very key ingredient to the future of the software industry. For us, it's more than a cognitive approach. It's about a fundamental shift in approach to how software is built."

And that shift into what Husain calls a "novel, smarter approach" to security analytics is what's allowing his company and others like it to gain traction in the market.

"That [signature-based] model is quite broken because there are now thousands and thousands of attacks that escape human analysis," Husain said. "With cognitive algorithms, we're trying to get software to do the job of a human security expert."

SparkCognition's MindSpark platform exists in the cloud, which would make more cloud partnerships important for the company in the future. Husain also said relationships with managed service providers also would be key for SparkCognition.

The company began selling its product in March and is up to a double-digit base of customers, according to Husain. It's also talking to about five channel partners.

The company's technology and strategy already has some serious backing behind it.

Seed and Series A investors included Michael Dell, cognitive computing-focused venture capital firm The Entrepreneurs' Fund and T. Boone Pickens III.