CRN Exclusive: Trustwave Nabs F5's Channel Leader To Mount Partner Offensive In Security

Trustwave is embarking on a new commitment to the channel with the hiring of channel veteran Jim Ritchings, tasked with driving indirect sales and revamping partner programs around security services.

"The vision is to build a stronger, larger partner ecosystem to make sure partners have the right tools and programs and team structure to support their business and put them in a better position to leverage our portfolio," said Ritchings, in an interview with CRN. "We're the fastest growing managed security services provider in the industry and that aspect is the fastest growing segment in the security industry … There's huge opportunity here for current and new partners."

Ritchings previously worked at application delivery specialist F5 Networks for 15 years, most recently as channel chief and senior vice president of Worldwide Channels and Alliances.

[Related: 10 Things Partners Should Know About Cisco's $2 Billion Security Business]

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During Ritching's tenure, Seattle-based F5's revenue skyrocketed from $108 million in 2002 to nearly $2 billion in 2015. He was also a key driver in forming partnerships with the likes of Microsoft, Oracle and VMware.

Trustwave, a Chicago-based managed security services specialist, is seeking to transform the way organizations manage their information security and compliance programs. Earlier this month, the company launched its new Secure Web Gateway Cloud service touting it as the industry's first cloud-based secure web gateway service with a zero malware guarantee.

Ritchings said Trustwave is doubling down on its channel initiatives and focus on better enabling partners, with plans in the near future to revamp the Trustwave Channel Partner Program.

"The program has a lot of the fundamental channel building blocks in place, but we really need to expand some of the offerings and programs to the channel to ensure that we're giving the channel the right tools, the right programs, the right incentives to focus on Trustwave," said Ritchings, whose official title is senior vice president of Trustwave's worldwide channel sales. "I really want to begin to develop it both vertically and horizontally in terms of the number of partners we bring in the program and the number of offers we bring to the partners."

The channel push comes as Trustwave looks to increase its workforce by 20 percent, with 300 current job openings for a staff of 1,500 worldwide, according Cas Purdy, vice president of Corporate Marketing and Communications at Trustwave.

"Jim's got a strong background in driving revenue through the channel and driving business through the channel, and more importantly a commitment to the channel," said Purdy. "He's really going to help us grow our business and be a strong channel advocate."

With the number of cyber-attacks only expected to increase for the foreseeable future, tied with the shortage of security talent, Trustwave channel partners stand to gain significant recurring revenue opportunities, according to Ritchings.

"We can bridge that gap to where customers are today to where they want to get to in terms of having a secure enterprise," said Ritchings. "Bringing that value proposition to the channel is very compelling because … it goes from selling point solutions to [a] fully managed, broad suite of solutions that can get the customer more quickly to that security posture."

Ritchings is not the only top executive Trustwave acquired recently. The security specialist hired Charles Spallitta earlier this year to serve as senior vice president of product management. Spallitta previously served as executive director of worldwide portfolio management at Hewlett-Packard Enterprise.

Singapore Telecommunications Limited (Singtel), one of Asia's leading communications company, acquired Trustwave in 2015 for $770 million.