Mandiant Taps Security Vet Dee Dee Acquista To Lead Channels
‘There are very few companies honestly that I would have been willing to come back into the workforce for. We‘re on the cusp of this very interesting journey where we’re going to redefine ourselves with the partner community,’ Acquista tells CRN exclusively.
Mandiant has brought in former Proofpoint, SentinelOne and Beyond Trust channel chief Dee Dee Acquista to deepen the company’s presence beyond the large enterprise.
The Milpitas, Calif.-based cyber defense and response vendor has tasked Acquista with getting solution providers more involved with selling Mandiant’s threat intelligence, security validation, and expertise on demand offering. Acquista sees her role at Mandiant as being similar to Proofpoint, where she turned a firm that primarily sold direct into a channel-led business during her 2013-to-2017 run as channel chief.
“There are very few companies honestly that I would have been willing to come back into the workforce for,” said Acquista, who intended to retire after leaving the global channel chief role at BeyondTrust in July. “We‘re on the cusp of this very interesting journey where we’re going to redefine ourselves with the partner community.”
The company’s Americas channel has been led since January 2016 by Chris Carter, who will be joining Symphony Technology Group (STG) as part of its $1.2 billion acquisition of the FireEye products business. The channel unit has been split equally between those going with FireEye and those remaining with Mandiant, meaning that Acquista will inherit more than 40 people with ‘channel’ in the title.
Acquista will serve as Mandiant’s vice president of channel sales for the Americas and report into Wes Simons, senior vice president of sales for the Americas. Since Mandiant doesn’t have a global channel chief, Acquista said she’ll work with her counterparts in Europe, the Middle East and Africa and Asia-Pacific to make sure there’s alignment with how the company goes to market in all geographies.
There are between 10 and 50 solution providers working with the Mandiant business in the Americas today, and Acquista said the company has the opportunity to do more with large national resellers and SIs like Optiv, CDW, SHI and NTT. Acquista acknowledged that anything with a statement of work (SOW) such as Mandiant’s world-famous consulting offerings aren’t likely to be sold through the channel.
On the Mandiant Advantage side of the business, Acquista said channel partners have already gotten very involved with selling the company’s threat intelligence and security validation offerings. Solution provider haven’t done as much with Mandiant’s expertise on demand to date, and Acquista believes there’s an opportunity ripe for the taking for partners who engage.
Acquista expects to see Mandiant implement a “hard deck” that communicates to both the company’s internal sales team as well as the partner community that customers below a certain size will transact exclusively through the channel. Almost every legitimate channel firm has a hard deck and stick with it to avoid confusion, and Acquista said such an approach should help Mandiant reach smaller customers.
“The mid-market and small-to-medium enterprise is where we want to go, and we know that we need to price it so that it can be within reach for them,” Acquista said. “As crazy as things have gotten these last few years with the threat actors getting so smart and creative, there‘s probably a very big appetite for [Mandiant].”
Acquista plans to review Mandiant’s deal registration policies to make sure the incentives are focused exclusively on partners who hunt down and bring deals to the company on their own. She also plans to make a few subtle tweaks to the company’s partner program before carrying out a more comprehensive program overhaul in early 2022.
“The technology is great and many people in this field have seen what I have been able to accomplish at Proofpoint and SentinelOne,” Acquista said. “We‘re here to help get a great technology into the hands of their customers.”
Acquista should focus on helping Mandiant set clear expectations about what they need from the channel, particularly as it relates to gaps in service the company expects partners to fill, according to Ryan Morris, president of Annapolis, Md.-based Mandiant partner Blackwood.
Morris would also like to see Mandiant optimize the balance it strikes between protecting the privacy of end users who recently experienced a security incident and sharing information with solution providers that would allow them to serve the customer better. Given the sensitivity of many enterprises coming to Mandiant, Morris said it can be difficult what information is or isn’t allowed to be shared with partners.
“I think Mandiant is in a very interesting place as an organization right now,” Morris said. “They’re overwhelmingly talented and have a great reputation for services. The challenge is, ‘How do you achieve scale?’ … It’s a huge question mark as to how they’ll engage with partners and what it’ll look like.”