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Bitdefender CEO: We Want To Increase Partner-Generated Leads By Leveraging Nutanix Partnership

Bitdefender CEO Florin Talpes hopes that by next year partners will account for more than half of the company's overall leads, up from only one-third today.

Bitdefender plans to utilize integrators, cloud infrastructure players, and its unique relationship with Nutanix to boost the amount of business that's being created through the channel.

The Bucharest, Romania-based security vendor hopes that by next year partners will account for more than half of the overall leads being generated by Bitdefender, according to CEO Florin Talpes. The channel accounts for only one-third of the company's leads today, he said.

"For a while, we have been very focused on building a lead generation engine on our side," Talpes told CRN Tuesday during the Gartner Security & Risk Management Summit in National Harbor, Md. "We'll continue to do so, but we want to support partners in understanding our products and getting into the game."

[Related: CRN Exclusive: Ex-Fortinet Channel Chief Joe Sykora Lands At Bitdefender To Support Global Push]

Central to that goal, Talpes said, will be capitalizing on Bitdefender's unique agreement to provide native integrated security for hyper-converged infrastructure player Nutanix. Given Bitdefender's unique position in the market, Talpes said the company needs to target Nutanix's customers, which means working closely with the Nutanix channel.

Similarly, Talpes said partners associated with key cloud infrastructure players know the hyper-converged market and understand the needs and issues facing customers. As a result, Talpes said these types of partners would be well-situated to add value for customers.

Finally, Talpes said integrators are becoming an increasingly appropriate channel fit for Bitdefender as the company gets asked more and more to help protect very large enterprises with more than 50,000 endpoints. Talpes specifically pointed to Bitdefender's Hypervisor Introspection and cloud security for Amazon Workspaces as offerings that are appealing to larger customers.

For specialized sales focused on cloud infrastructures such as Nutanix, Talpes said Bitdefender's sales engineers and solution architects work closely with the partner, focusing in particular on their technical talent. In addition to coaching and training the solution provider, Talpes said Bitdefender will share lead generation and lead sales flows with the partner.

Bitdefender will still initially generate and feed solution providers leads that will ultimately be executed through the partner, according to Talpes. This ensures that Bitdefender's internal personnel and the partner learn how to work well together in scenarios where the solution provider is specialized and well-suited to perform, Talpes said.

"These are very complex infrastructures where you need deep knowledge of what's happening there," Talpes said.

Solution provider commissions are determined largely by the amount of services the partner ultimately provides to the customer, Talpes said, with the highest possible commission going to partners that provide a full stack of proof-of-concept, technical support, closing and post-sales services. Commissions are definitely higher for partners that supplied the customer lead themselves, according to Talpes.

Regardless of who generated the lead, Talpes said more than 99 percent of sales in Bitdefender's business solutions division are billed through a channel partner. The unit enjoyed year-over-year growth of more than 50 percent, he said, and got a boost late last year from the hiring of former Fortinet channel chief Joe Sykora in a newly created vice president of worldwide channel development role.

Talpes praised Sykora's experience at Fortinet and elsewhere building powerful, fast-growing channels. Specifically, he said Sykora knows how to build local teams, is very knowledgeable of the global market, and excels at getting knowledge and best practices shared between different teams and different regions while still holding onto his own expertise.

At Bitdefender, Talpes said Sykora has been focused on getting appropriate types of channel partners on board and educating them around the company's capabilities.

"We want to do a leap forward in terms of channel," Talpes said. "We are seeing its value."

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