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Pulse Secure Targets MSSPs With Flexible Pricing, Provisioning Options

Instead of tying up money in up-front equipment purchases, Pulse Secure CEO Sudhakar Ramakrishna says MSSPs can use the savings for customer acquisition and new services so their business can expand faster.

Pulse Secure plans to roll out on-demand provisioning and pay-per-use pricing to reduce the up-front investment required from MSSPs.

The San Jose, Calif.-based cybersecurity vendor said revised MSSP packaging including user-based licensing will be available to Pulse Secure's channel partners through distribution at the end of November. It will retail at $6 per concurrent user, per month for the first 500 users, Pulse Secure said, with higher discounts available for larger user counts.

The offering will make it easier for cloud service providers and even traditional resellers going through two-tier distribution today to become managed security service providers, Pulse Secure CEO Sudhakar Ramakrishna told CRN. Instead of tying up money in up-front equipment purchases, Ramakrishna said the savings can be used for customer acquisition and new services so their business can expand faster.

[Related: CRN Exclusive: Pulse Secure Lands New CMO To Drive Partner Growth Around Services, Consulting]

The new packaging cuts capital expenditures by enabling MSSPs to spin up or spin down virtual Secure Access instances and licenses at a cost based on the number of concurrent monthly users. By allowing the managed service to scale on demand, partners and customers can buy Secure Access in the same way and avoid oversubscribing or buying overcapacity, said Pulse Secure CMO Scott Gordon.

On-demand provisioning and tiered, user-based pricing give service providers the flexibility needed for customer on-boarding, growth spurts and business downturns, according to Pulse Secure. Specifically, Gordon said it will result in less stress for MSSPs, who will no longer have to predict their customer's growth trajectory well in advance or do last-minute purchasing to meet capacity requirements.

RKON Technologies has up until now bought and built Pulse Secure's technology into its compliant-ready cloud, forcing the Chicago-based MSP to make a major capital outlay and then get paid back as it sells at volume, said co-founder and CEO Jeff Mullarkey. Usage-based pricing, though, aligns better with how RKON bills clients, Mullarkey said, making it easier for the company to work with Pulse Secure.

"It preserves capital," Mullarkey told CRN.

RKON has to continually make investments since it's in a leading-edge market, he said, but only has so much cash available at any given moment. But now, Mullarkey said RKON will no longer have to make a big up-front investment to take on Pulse Secure's product.

The transaction is also simplified from a billing perspective, Mullarkey said, since RKON is charging customers and paying Pulse Secure at the same point in the process. This should reduce administrative costs for RKON, according to Mullarkey, and allow the company to be more competitive and aggressive from a pricing standpoint.

"They're no longer our little secret," he said. "They're really a competitive advantage for quality players that understand and know how to solve security challenges."

Secure Access will be offered to solution providers in three tiers: Essentials, Advanced and Enterprise. Essentials provides network and cloud access with management, Ramakrishna said, with Advanced adding mobile access, and Enterprise infusing in enforcement capabilities.

MSSPs today are typically interested in the Enterprise and Advanced levels since they need not only connectivity and security, according to Ramakrishna, but also visibility and compliance available at the higher tiers.

MSSPs will have access to free ramping over a three-month period, Gordon said, and will then be asked to make a monthly decision around how many licenses they want. All told, Ramakrishna said the new packaging will shift MSSPs from fixed up-front investments to investments that are variable with customer demand, with partners only buying more licenses as they procure more customers.

The Pulse Secure Access Suite for MSSPs will include an integrated virtual private network, enterprise mobile management, network access control and a virtual application delivery controller within a unified management framework for data center and hybrid IT implementation, according to the company.

The integrated product sets will make it easier for MSSPs to add services quickly rather than having to build them in silos, according to Ramakrishna.

The offering also includes a multitenant, centralized management system and licensing server that gives MSSPs operational oversight while also providing clients with dashboard visibility. The Pulse Secure Access Suite includes virtual appliance form factors for VMware, KVM and Hyper-V, and supports deployment in hosted cloud environments such as Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services.

Between 90 percent and 95 percent of Pulse Secure's overall business flows through channel partners today, Ramakrishna said, with nearly 25 percent of sales being transacted by MSSPs or cloud service providers (CSPs). Pulse Secure has between 100 and 200 MSSP and CSP partners today, Ramakrishna said, and hopes to add an additional 100 to 200 MSSP or CSP solution providers worldwide within the next year.

Ramakrishna said Pulse Secure is most focused on customer engagement and success scores, the number of customers being served through the channel, and new partner recruitment from either traditional partners becoming MSSPs or CSPs or longstanding MSSPs or CSPs joining the program. All told, Ramakrishna said Pulse Secure wants to grow the MSSP and CSP slice of the overall channel pie.

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