Rapid7 Channel Chief Looks To Hit Reset Button, Says Small Steps Made To Repair Partner Relationships

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A year ago, Rapid7 had a reputation in the channel. It wasn't a good one.

In February, the security vendor brought on new channel chief John Ryan to change this, charging the new director of Americas channel to revamp the company's historically direct go-to-market and re-engage with partners.

Now, almost a year into the company's journey, Ryan said Rapid7 is starting to see progress when it comes to the channel.

[Related: Sophos Launches New Cloud Partner Program To Capture Growing Public Cloud Security Opportunity]

"We're starting to see a lot from an incremental standpoint. Most of the business that has closed post-program launch has been incremental from the channel and pass-through business. Our reps are engaged and on board in ways they haven’t been in the past," Ryan said.

Ryan called the shift a "calculated risk," one he said extends all the way up to CEO Corey Thomas and COO Andrew Burton. Over the past year, that risk has included the launch of a complete overhaul process when it comes to partners, including a new partner program. Ryan said the new program is focused on the two pillars of services and turning over more Rapid7 business to partners.

With the launch of that partner program, Rapid7 also re-evaluated the partners it was working with. The security vendor realized more than half of them were just holding paper and not transacting business, he said. The company worked with its legal department to terminate many of those contracts, focusing instead on narrowing its focus on boutique companies in different regions, according to Ryan. The company used to have 400 or so partners, but now has about 160, some of which are net new since the changes were made, he said.

"It's not for everyone," Ryan said of the new partner program. "We have a very narrow focus group that we're spending our time with. It's not just an open door here. We have made some calculated risks across the country and up in Canada. It's paying off for sure."

Trever Smith, executive vice president of Victor, N.Y.-based Brite Computers, said this is a transition his business has seen first-hand. Brite Computers, a systems integrator focused on cybersecurity, has partnered with Rapid7 for a few years. He said the first year and a half of the partnership were "pretty weak," saying the company really only engaged with the vendor if it happened to find an opportunity.

"If we found an opportunity they would allow us to sell it, but there was no real healthy program," Smith said.

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