Partners: BlackBerry Must Lay Out Vision For Cylance, Accelerate R&D Roadmap


Partners said BlackBerry needs to fully explain their strategy around acquiring cybersecurity startup Cylance and use their deep pockets to help the company meet its roadmap goals more quickly.

One partner of Irvine, Calif.-based Cylance who didn't wish to be identified said they want to get a better sense of the vision behind this acquisition and whether it's an attempt to fill a hole in BlackBerry's portfolio, build a broader architecture, or recapture market share they've lost in recent years. Specifically, the partner hopes that it isn't part of an effort by Cylance's executive team to cash out.

"Partners are going to want to know the bigger strategy tied to this acquisition," the solution provider said. "What is their vision for Cylance as part of the BlackBerry portfolio?"

[Related: BlackBerry To Buy AI Based Cybersecurity Startup Cylance For $1.4B]

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Michael Crean of Solutions Granted, though, is really looking forward to seeing how quickly BlackBerry is able to accelerate Cylance's innovation roadmap, which he said is focused around enabling solution providers to lead more professional services engagements.

"That's huge not just from a product standpoint, but also from a services standpoint," said Crean, president of the Woodbridge, Va.-based solution provider. "It's a really cool time when you see some of the things Cylance is working on."

The Cylance partner not wishing to be identified always believed that Cylance would eventually be subsumed by a larger organization. They, however, assumed the acquirer would be a technology vendor with deep cybersecurity roots like Cisco, or a legacy endpoint security vendor like Symantec and McAfee looking to strengthen their signature-less capabilities.

"I just don't see BlackBerry as a prominent force in the security market," the partner told CRN. "I was hoping that Cylance would be acquired by someone that would make a one-plus-one equals three type of equation."

Blackberry and Cylance weren't immediately available to provide comment. The $1.4 billion acquisition is expected to close by the end of February, and BlackBerry's stock is up $0.07 (0.79 percent) to $8.93 in trading midday Friday.

Crean, though, was worried that traditional anti-virus vendors might have taken Cylance's intellectual property around predicting known and unknown threats to endpoints, integrated that into their legacy systems, and ripped the rest of the company apart. BlackBerry, though, seems committed to maintaining Cylance's purity and allowing it to operate on a standalone basis.

"Cylance just got more legitimacy as to who they are than any other player in the market," Crean said. "I think it's great personally."

The Cylance partner who didn't wish to be identified was also concerned about Cylance and BlackBerry being at different stages in the innovation lifecycle. Cylance is seen as ahead of the curve from an artificial intelligence and machine learning perspective in the endpoint security space, the partner said, while BlackBerry has a very different reputation.

"At one point, they [BlackBerry] were the market leader and they've significantly gone in the other direction in terms of bleeding-edge or leading-edge technologies," the partner said. "I don't understand the relevance in terms of how it [Cylance] fits into where BlackBerry is going and how they're doing."

A third Cylance partner said in an email that "It'll be interesting :)", but declined to comment further.

Crean acknowledged that BlackBerry got crushed in the handheld devices marketplace by iPhone and Android, but said the company has positioned itself well for an re-invention over past couple of years in the Enterprise of Things space.

"Not too often in life can you change the spots on a leopard, but this acquisition is going to give them the opportunity," Crean said.

BlackBerry's advances in the automotive and embedded technology spaces will allow the company to make a big play from a mobile IT perspective, Crean said. Integrating Cylance's artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities into the connected devices ecosystem that BlackBerry already has to provide greater protection will be a game-changer, according to Crean.

"Sometimes as humans, we fear change," Crean said. "But I don't think someone goes around and throws $1.4 billion at something if they don't believe in it."