Growing List Of Security Partners Trigger Bit9 Carbon Black Growth

Bit9 Carbon Black has been making a significant investment in its channel operation over the last several years, and executives there said the company experienced rapid growth in 2014 driven by a growing number of channel partners.

Bit9 merged with Carbon Black last year, drawing attention from security industry observers for the move, and igniting interest in a combined platform that adds advanced threat detection, prevention and incident response to the decade-old Bit9, which was known for its white-listing capabilities.

Bit9 executives said the company has been steadily increasing its commitment to the channel for growth. The company elevated Jessica Couto in 2012 to transition the overall sales strategy from one that was primarily direct to one that increasingly relies on the channel for net-new deals. Couto, named one of CRN's most powerful women of the channel, added strategic channel partners, including Accuvant, FishNet Security and SOS Security, aggressively pushing the company that did less than 40 percent channel-driven sales to one that today does nearly 80 percent of its deals through the channel. Couto bolstered the company's services certification program, added more field marketing events with partners and increased channel head count.

[Related: Bit9 Merges With Carbon Black For Incident Response]

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Bit9 looks closely at the net-new pipeline that the channel is bringing in each quarter. The partner community has been very receptive to Bit9, especially over the last 18 months, said Bit9 channel chief Ed Filippine. Bit9 also provides an uplift incentive to get the direct sales force to take deals through the channel, Filippine said.

The Carbon Black acquisition added realtime visibility, detection and response to Bit9’s white-listing and application control capabilities, said Filippine, an EMC veteran who managed sales, pre-sales engineering, operations and services. Filippine was named to the Bit9 position in 2013 and reports to CEO Patrick Morley.

"There are go-to partners that we are very invested in, and then we now have several critical boutique channel partners that are out there that are starting to round out our model," Filippine said. "When we merged with Carbon Black, it rounded out our solution and got us deeper in terms of what threat came in and what it did."

The Bit9 Connect Partner Program was created in 2010. It consists of authorized resellers and authorized solution providers with technical skills that can carry out implementation and support. It also provides a fee to referral partners, such as consultants that don't provide fulfillment.

A separate program also supports security service providers and incident response specialists. All partners have access to deal registration. Program participants also gain access to co-branded sales tools and collateral, reseller discounts and lead-generation activities. There are no revenue requirements to join. Training and certification is free. Partners also get a dedicated partner program manager. The annual subscription for Bit9 Carbon Black starts at $30 per endpoint and $150 per server.

One of Bit9 Carbon Black’s top partners, Accuvant was acquired by The Blackstone Group, a private equity firm, which also had a large stake in Bit9. Accuvant merged with FishNet in a $1.5 billion deal that closed this week. The Blackstone Group retained the majority ownership of the combined behemoth.

Security vendors, including Bit9 Carbon Black executives and channel executives at other security vendors, said the deal has not yet had a major impact on sales. They said they are closely eyeing the company’s management moves and go-to-market strategy unfold.

In addition to a growing install base among large enterprises, Filippine said the company grew the number of midmarket deals by 24 percent. The company also is adding technology partnerships, signing on sandboxing specialist Lastline this week for suspicious file inspection capabilities. It also has technology partnerships with Check Point, Palo Alto Networks and FireEye.

Bit9 Carbon Black is competing against a growing number of startups taking a different approach than standard endpoint protection platforms. Solution providers that specialize in endpoint protection said they see Bit9 Carbon Black competing with Hexis Cyber Solutions, CounterTack, CrowdStrike, Cylance and Triumfant in customer bake-offs. Bit9 Carbon Black satisfies both the digital forensics capabilities by recording what happens at the endpoint, and provides a level of protection and application control, said Don Oxman, president of The Oxman Group, based in Forth Worth, Texas. Oxman said his security consultancy became a Bit9 incident response partner as part of its professional security services offerings.

"There are very few resellers that are doing anything with incident response in this area," Oxman said. "The midmarket is underserved, in my opinion, and needs better security services as part of risk mitigation efforts."

Companies are not replacing traditional endpoint platforms, but they're increasingly considering emerging alternatives to bolster endpoint protection, said Kevin Willette, owner of Fridley, Minn.-based solution provider Verus, which assists firms in meeting health-care and payment industry compliance mandates. Willette, whose firm partners with Sophos and ESET on the endpoint, said he has a client base primarily consisting of midmarket companies. The spate of high-profile data breaches combined with a lot of news about sophisticated and targeted advanced threats has prompted concern and interest in alternatives, Willette said.

"It's been a never-ending game of running after what is best for the customer, but it is really about guiding our clients into establishing and maintain a multilayered security approach," Willette said.