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Three MSSPs Merge To Take On Security Giants Secureworks, IBM

Sword & Shield, Terra Verde and TruShield have come together under the ownership of Sunstone Partners to form Avertium, a 150-person managed security service provider with a strong focus on the mid-market.

Three smaller MSSPs have joined forces to gain the scale necessary for competing against larger managed security players like Secureworks, IBM and Arctic Wolf Networks.

Sword & Shield, Terra Verde and TruShield have come together under the ownership of growth equity firm Sunstone Partners to form Avertium, a 150-person managed security service provider (MSSP) with 1,200 customers across the country and a strong focus on the mid-market. Avertium will be led by Jeff Schmidt, who most recently served as president and CEO of secure access provider Authomate.

"Sunstone gets cybersecurity. They get the market we're going after," Schmidt told CRN. "I'm extremely excited about what we are going to go do."

[Related: The Wipro Breach: Why Managed Service Providers Are At Risk]

Schmidt said the companies making up Avertium often found themselves competing for managed security deals against large players like Secureworks and IBM. Secureworks and IBM are "kind of all over the place" servicing everyone from the Fortune 500 to the Fortune 2000, Schmidt said, while Avertium is more laser-focused on delivering managed security to companies with between 100 and 3,500 users.

"We are building our framework for our customer base, and understanding their needs, their market, and the problems that they're trying to solve," Schmidt said.

Avertium also has a competitive advantage over the likes of Secureworks and IBM by having more of an agnostic approach to technology, according to Schmidt. As for more direct competitors like Arctic Wolf Networks, Schmidt said Avertium has "a leg up" thanks to being wrapped around endpoint detection, rapidly solving customer problems, as well as consistency and reporting capabilities.

Secureworks, IBM and Arctic Wolf Networks didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

Mid-market companies face a proliferation of threats and a lack of available resources due to the supply shortage and high cost associated with hiring security-minded professionals, Schmidt said. The mid-market has been underserved from a security perspective, according to Schmidt, and is in need of outside assistance to put together solution sets and augment their internal security capabilities, he said.

Schmidt said his security pedigree, understanding of the mid-market, familiarity with building and integrating different companies together, and experience taking a company from being a small business to having a national footprint made him a good fit to be CEO. Schmidt spent six years at communications giant BT, including three as the firm's global head of business continuity, security and governance.

Sword & Shield, Terra Verde and TruShield are all very well-aligned from a portfolio perspective, Schmidt said, with few differentiators between each of the three companies. Each of the businesses was more heavily focused on serving local customers, Schmidt said, but also played nationally.

From a vertical standpoint, Schmidt said Avertium is well-positioning to service everything from financial services, healthcare and retail to hospitality, manufacturing and technology. The company also has some experience serving public sector and public utility providers in smaller markets, according to Schmidt.

Going forward, Schmidt said Avertium wants to apply AI and machine learning to its managed services, as well as enhance its existing platform with better reporting so that customers can compare their spend on managed security to the tangible benefits they're getting from that investment.

Schmidt hopes that further application of machine learning and AI can reduce the number of false positives security practitioners are receiving so that they can devote more time and energy so where the real threats are actually happening.

From a reporting standpoint, Schmidt said Avertium wants to identify relevant metrics for clients to use to assess how their security posture stacks up against the rest of the industry. Avertium hopes its reporting tools will provide more insight into an organization's patch management posture, and ultimately speak to whether a business is more secure or less secure than it was a year earlier.

"Our team is our differentiator," Schmidt said. "Understanding our market and our people makes a huge difference."

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