CRN Exclusive: Opaq Networks Goes All-In On Channel With Launch Of Partner-Exclusive Sales Model


Opaq Networks plans to onboard between 25 and 30 regionally-focused solution providers this year as the startup looks to expand its midmarket presence.

The Herndon, Va.-based security vendor said its 100 percent channel sales model would be a radical departure from the purely direct approach favored by the two organizations acquired by Opaq last year, Ken Ammon, Opaq's chief strategy officer, told CRN exclusively.

Customers that came over in January when Opaq acquired Bat Blue Networks and, in May when it bought Drawbridge Networks, can continue to rely on Opaq for installations and upfront policy gathering, Ammon said. But for new customers, Ammon said channel partners will be the only ones responsible for provisioning, monitoring, managing and deploying the cloud-based security service.

[Related: CRN Exclusive: Channel Chief Veteran Dunsire Named President Of Arlington Computer Products]

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Opaq has put a lot of work into a partner portal that supports onboarding, training, certification and deal registration while simplifying and automating the ability of solution providers to quote out opportunities, Ammon said. Moreover, auto-provisioning into Opaq's portal makes it possible for channel partners to manage their portfolio of customers from a single pane of glass.

In addition to tying in its front-end business process and building out operational support, Ammon said Opaq is also providing partners with solution architects and hiring regional channel managers to manage the opportunity and onboard clients.

Opaq has reduced the cost and complexity associated with enterprise-grade security to make it accessible to the midmarket, according to Ammon. Midsize solution providers should, therefore, be able to support Opaq's platform with just a mid-grade network engineer, Ammon said. They would then use the company's platform to deliver either a directly managed or co-managed security service.

The company's partner program will include two tiers, Ammon said: a silver-level offering with discounts of between 15 percent and 20 percent and a gold-level tier that provides discounts of around 35 percent. Silver partners must have at least $1 million in annual bookings as well as at least one Opaq certified engineer.

Gold partners are required to generate $3 million of annual business with Opaq while maintaining three Opaq-certified engineers on staff, according to the company. In exchange, they will receive a named customer success representative, solution architect support, and market development funds (MDF), the company said.

Opaq's offering is a good fit for partners with customers facing significant compliance or regulatory pressure, Ammon said, as well as solution providers struggling to deliver enterprise-grade firewall products to mid-market accounts. The company plans to ramp up with regional partners and ensure its successful before bringing national partners onboard, according to Ammon.

The company's end customers typically range in size from 25 to 1,500 employees, with businesses between 300 and 500 workers serving as Opaq's sweet spot. Ammon considers Cato Networks to be Opaq's closest competitor, though Cato built its intellectual property entirely on its own while Opaq has partnered with other vendors to achieve optimal outcomes.

Adding Opaq to Arlington Computer Products' line card will make it possible for the solution provider to deliver top-notch enterprise security without needing a whole team of cybersecurity engineers, according to Tom Turkot, vice president of client solutions.

"We feel very excited about this opportunity," Turkot told CRN. "As soon as we started talking about it, people started nodding their heads."

The Buffalo Grove, Ill.-based solution provider, derived $10 million – or roughly 12.5 percent of its overall revenue – from cybersecurity, Turkot said. However, Turkot said ACP's clients are still hungry for a security-as-a-service offering that can be delivered in the cloud.

Opaq's offering would be a great fit for ACP's state and local government, education, manufacturing and distribution, and commercial customers with between 500 and 1,500 seats, Turkot said. He could also see consulting firms or law offices looking at Opaq since they typically have a mobile workforce with few people on-premises in a single office.

ACP has brought Opaq to a dozen of its school districts or commercial accounts, and Turkot said all but one have asked for more information or a demo. The product is appealing to clients since it doesn't require a support team or the management of hardware infrastructure, Turkot said, while operating in the cloud ensures the product is continually kept up to date.

"It's a compelling story to the CIO of a medium or small business," Turkot said. "There's a lot of the headache and heartache taken away from them."