CRN Exclusive: Illusive Networks Names Former Extreme Networks, Palo Alto Networks Channel Exec As New Channel Chief

Less than a year after launching from stealth, security startup Illusive Networks is diving headfirst into the channel, naming longtime channel executive Tracy Pallas as its first channel chief and aligning its investments toward a partner-first approach.

Illusive Networks, based in both Tel Aviv and New York, is breaking its way into the emerging market for deception technologies with its Deception Everywhere solution. The solution is based on the premise that attackers will inevitably get inside the perimeter and uses an agent-less approach to "turn the tables on attackers" by installing decoy data onto laptops, desktops, servers, data centers and more to root out attackers already in the environment.

The company was founded by Check Point veteran Ofer Israeli, who is now vice president of R&D. It landed $22 million in Series B funding in October, just a few months after its June launch from stealth mode.

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Now, the company is looking to put some of that funding to good use and embrace a 100 percent channel go-to-market model. At the center of that is Pallas, who brings close to 20 years of experience to her new role, most recently at Extreme Networks, where she was senior director of Americas channel sales from April to October 2015. Before that, she served as vice president of Americas channels and distribution at Palo Alto Networks.

Since officially starting in November, Pallas has been charged with kick-starting the company’s channel program, she told CRN in an interview. She said Illusive Networks has been working with some partners on an informal basis since its launch, but is now looking to formalize that relationship and tailor its strategy and infrastructure around the channel going forward.

"We are going to market as a 100 percent channel company," Pallas said. "We have no desire to go after our customers directly. That's because our executive team and board believe that the true path to revenue and scale is through partners."

While Illusive Networks is still young to the market, Pallas said the company’s leadership is hellbent on going to market totally through the channel. Other startups might start direct and build a proof of concept before embracing the channel, but Pallas said that can be challenging, as it engrains "bad behavior" and a conflict of interest between sales forces.

"I jumped on the opportunity to join the company, not just because the technology is a differentiator, but also because we're going to build the company around this commitment to the channel," Pallas said. "I see it as the first time to build it right, of all the places I've worked."

Pallas said she plans to roll out the majority of its channel infrastructure within the next 90 days, including a formal channel program, partner portal, training and enablement support. Pallas said the program is focused on being "structured but simple," with requirements around revenue, technical certifications and more, without being overly complicated.

"I came up through the ranks having to think like a partner," Pallas said. "I know it's very important to be easy to do business with, especially in the security space."

While it doesn't have any resellers signed up just yet, Pallas said, Illusive Networks is looking to recruit traditional security partners, both national and regional, with the potential to move into managed security services providers later. Pallas said deception technology presents a significant opportunity for partners, as it is a new technology that can provide both additional streams of revenue and better security.

"Most of the partners with whom we are speaking today aren't doing anything around this category of deception. It's a great new revenue stream from a pure resale perspective," Pallas said. "I think that's why we're getting such strong interest from the channel in this early phase."