ForeScout Aims To Be The Most Channel-Friendly Company On The Block

It's a bold statement for any company to say that it wants to be the most channel-friendly company in its market, and even more so for that proclamation to be made in one of fastest-growing fields in IT today.

But, that's exactly what ForeScout Technologies says it plans to do as it blasts further into the security market.

"There's a real opportunity for ForeScout," CEO Michael DeCesare said. "We have the ability to be the most channel-friendly company out there in this space. ... I'm super focused on that."

[Related: 13 Things To Know About ForeScout's New CEO]

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ForeScout has strong roots in the channel, with more than 90 percent of its business going through partners (a number it says it wants to be closer to 100 percent), and it has nabbed leadership from top security competitors with a strong channel legacy. The company works primarily with security-focused solution providers and, more recently, made a push through distribution with the November inking of partnerships with Westcon Group and Arrow Electronics.

"We're very deep into this," DeCesare said. "We're trying to really set this up for success."

That foundation will prove especially critical, DeCesare said, as the explosion of Internet of Things devices makes the need for a solution like ForeScout's more pressing than ever. As billions more devices connect to the network, with Gartner predicting there will be 25 billion connected devices by 2020, those devices will have to be both recognized and secured, he said. ForeScout's flagship CounterACT offering fits squarely into that market, with a network access control solution to counteract visibility and enforcement challenges across a client's network, endpoints and applications.

"That makes us the most promising company in IoT, which is the fastest-growing area in technology today," DeCesare said. "It is a very good place to be," he said.

The company, based in Campbell, Calif., has seen "absolutely crazy growth," DeCesare said, telling CRN earlier this year that ForeScout had more than $100 million in annual revenue and was growing at more than 50 percent year over year.

Driving that growth in large part are the company's 154 active channel partners.

Kevin Pouche, chief operating officer at Brookline, Mass.-based K logix Security, said the company has been a ForeScout partner for about three years. In the last year and a half, its business with the vendor has "gone through the roof," with Pouche saying that the company expects it to close the year with 500 percent growth over the past 18 months.

"It's a huge growth area for us," Pouche said. "ForeScout has quickly become an elite partner of ours."

That has caught the attention of both venture capital firms and top security executives, as the company has raised more than $45 million to date in venture capital funding and added FireEye CEO Dave DeWalt, former Symantec president and CEO Enrique Salem, and DeCesare himself, who was the president of Intel Security until the beginning of 2015, to its board of directors.

As ForeScout continues its charge into the channel, the recent signing of Westcon and Arrow, in particular, are significant, DeCesare said, as both distributors have a strong focus on security and are particularly selective about who they choose to add to their portfolio.

Andrew Warren, vice president of security solutions at Westcon, said the distributor looks to choose best-of-breed technologies that fit within its existing ecosystem. That same reasoning holds true at Arrow, Howard Goldberg, president of Arrow ECS North America, said in an email to CRN.

According to Warren, a "critical" part of the decision to bring a new vendor on board is the company's approach to the channel. With the opportunity around IoT and the investments ForeScout is making in its channel ecosystem, Warren said it isn't a farfetched goal for the vendor to be the most channel-friendly security company.

"We see that opportunity, absolutely," Warren said. "[ForeScout] already runs most of their business through the channel. I think with all the things that Mike and the team are doing to build the channel team and ecosystem [it shows] ... they're putting in the investment."

Continuing that investment and focus on the channel is a key piece of the company's business plan going into 2016, DeCesare said. As DeCesare approaches his one-year anniversary as CEO, he said he will be measuring the company's success on how much growth it is seeing through its partners, a factor he expects will grow exponentially with distribution now sitting at the table.

"I've been doing this for a really long time and I know how to be channel-friendly," DeCesare said. "I understand the benefits of how to get the channel going … and I want to take advantage of our trajectory."