CRN Exclusive: Demisto Launches First Partner Program As Market For Security Automation Heats Up

Demisto is doubling down on the channel, announcing on Wednesday the launch of its first partner program as the market for security automation and orchestration heats up.

The new Nucleus Partner Program has two tiers: silver and gold, which are based on sales volume and number of trained sales engineers. The company has also rolled out provisions for deal registration, incumbency on expansionary and renewal sales, first right of refusal on professional services, pre- and post-sales training, and high-margin pricing for partners.

The new program is led by Bob Kruse, who joined the company in April as vice president of alliances. Kruse comes to Demisto from Optiv Security, where he was vice president of partner solutions until March. Kruse said the program will provide the foundation for Demisto to "build a lot of momentum and quickly."

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"This is something that is great for us, but it is also great for our channel," Kruse said. "The channel is already experiencing the same [growth with us]."

Tera Davis, managing director at Plano, Texas-based Critical Start, said she is seeing demand grow for security automation and orchestration solutions, especially as customers look to improve their security operations centers. She said Critical Start already has a couple of customers doing proofs-of-concept with Demisto's technology.

"We're continuing to grow as a company, and a company like Demisto is a great addition to our portfolio," Davis said.

Davis said the new partner program is "really nice," highlighting the margins, deal protections and opportunities to work together on deals.

"It shows that they are focused and committed to the channel, especially in their early stage," Davis said. "We are looking forward to having a strong partnership."

The program isn't Demisto's first foray into the channel. The Cupertino, Calif.-based company already worked 100 percent through the channel prior to the launch and does not sell direct. The company first started its engagement with the channel in August, but was mostly "opportunistic and not strategic," co-founder and Vice President of Marketing Rishi Bhargava said. He said the addition of Kruse and the launch of the new program will help scale Demisto's go-to-market and make engagement with the channel more strategic.

"This will help improve our reach. Launching a partner program and a focus on hiring the best of the best channel partners out there is very important to us," Bhargava said.

Demisto will look to add partners in four categories: managed security service providers, system integrators, technology partners, and consulting partners. It has already recruited nearly a dozen security-focused regional, national, and global partners. Kruse said the company is looking to add partners that are security focused and already partner with vendors the company integrates with.

The partner program launch also comes as the market for security automation and orchestration heats up in a big way. The market overall is expected to hit $1.68 billion by 2021, up from $826 million in 2016, according to research firm MarketsandMarkets. With that rising demand has come the start of consolidation in the space, with Microsoft acquiring Demisto competitor Hexadite earlier this month for a reported $100 million.

Founded in 2015, Demisto has garnered significant venture capital attention – including $20 million in funding in February – for its security automation platform. The offering helps SOC analysts automate alert triage, track and manage incidents, automate threat feed correlation, and facilitate incident investigations.

For partners, that market is critical as customers grapple with an increasing security talent shortage and rising number of security alerts, Bhargava said. He said he also sees demand driven by desires to reduce the mean time from attack to response and to provide a consistent process for incident response. Kruse said the lack of cybersecurity talent is the "biggest threat" to partners and customers.

"The lack of skilled talent is probably the biggest cybersecurity threat ever," Kruse said. "If there's no people to run [security solutions], then we're out of luck. That's where automation, machine learning, artificial intelligence can supplement and mitigate that pain."

Kruse said Demisto will continue to develop its partner program, saying it is a "living, breathing program." He said Demisto will also eventually look to "automate things beyond security," applying its technology to other areas of the IT infrastructure and providing "automation and orchestration for everything."