CRN Exclusive: Pwnie Express Launches New Partner Program, Appoints Former RSA Exec As Channel Chief

As the opportunity around IoT security continues to grow, Vice President of Sales and Strategic Accounts Kurt Lee said Pwnie Express was only hitting one major road bump when it came to sales expansion.

"We started attracting different types of partners saying we want to be part of your partner program. We would have to say we don't have a program," Lee said.

On Wednesday that changed, as Pwnie announced the launch of the new Stampede partner program, its first partner program to help facilitate sales through targeted regional reseller partners and MSSPs. Lee will lead the program as the company's head of sales and strategic accounts.

[Related: Pwnie Express CEO: IoT Security Creates New Business Opportunity For Partners]

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Lee started with Pwnie in April. He most recently served as vice president of strategic alliances for RiskAnalytics, formerly the Netwitness portfolio under RSA, before its acquisition by Dell. He has also held a variety of sales and channel leadership roles at Q1Labs, ArcSight, Riptech, and Raptor Systems. He said he was drawn to the opportunity at Pwnie to help build a team and product for an emerging market for the channel.

"[IoT security] just strikes me as a massive problem that needs to be solved … We're taking Pwnie now and we're taking it to the future," Lee said. "That's interesting to me."

The new Stampede program will have one tier at launch, Lee said. He said the company has already started the beginning stages of conversations with a leading distributor to add a second tier down the road. He said the program will also include existing online training, content, and user guides. He said the company's partner portal will launch in a couple of weeks.

The launch of the partner program is a departure for Pwnie, which has previously sold directly to customers. Lee said the launch is part of a transformation by the company to focus on the channel, as it also pivots the business away from a sensor-centric and penetration testing (pen testing) business to one that focuses on autonomous and pervasive visibility into the environment and connected devices.

"We have to rapidly build out that partner ecosystem," Lee said. "Now we want to get to the word out that we are open for business. We have built a program and will solicit those who are interested." Lee said Pwnie is bolstering its resources around the channel, moving over three of its best direct technical resources to the channel team and adding a channel manager. He said the company will continue to add to this team.

Lee said Pwnie would look to recruit a targeted set of partners for the new program, including regional systesms integrators, services-focused security solution providers, and MSSPs. Lee said Pwnie would look for partners who are looking to wrap a set of services around the company's solutions, which include an IoT platform to assess networks for connected devices and pinpoint those that are unauthorized or present a security risk.

The launch of the partner program comes as the opportunity around IoT security starts to become real for partners, Lee said. In a recent report, Gartner called out IoT as a factor that will help drive demand for managed security services, with was up 10.5 percent in 2015. The total market for IoT security is expected to grow 24 percent to $840.5 million by 2020. Lee said Pwnie is looking to play a role in that growth for partners, saying the company's solution is a natural add-on to existing solution sets.

"We aren't here to disrupt anything the partner does. We are here to enhance whatever you currently offer … We are an elegant and interesting extension to what you already have," Lee said. "Most of the conversation starts with: this is a way to get out ahead and differentiate yourself ahead of these trends."

For the channel, there are several opportunities in working with customers to secure their IoT devices – and education is the first step.

Bill Frank, vice president of Security Services at INN04, a Boston, Mass.-based solution provider, said that the channel has a big role to play in educating customers on IoT security, as well as helping them identify all the devices on their network.

’When you look at virtually any security or compliance framework the first thing you should be doing is identifying all the device on the network, because you can’t manage them unless you know they’re there,’ he said. ’This has been a huge problem in terms of IoT security in every organization we’ve worked with.’