Zix Aims To Solve ‘Biggest Challenges’ With Microsoft 365 For Partners

The email security vendor has ‘completely reimagined’ its business following the acquisition of AppRiver, said Justin Gilbert, senior director of channel marketing, during the XChange+ 2020 Virtual Experience.


Email security vendor Zix is leveraging its acquisition of AppRiver to help with “addressing some of the elephants in the room” for partners around working with Microsoft, a Zix channel executive said Thursday.

Dallas-based Zix is “helping our partners overcome some of the biggest challenges that Microsoft 365 poses,” said Justin Gilbert, senior director of channel marketing at Zix. “Namely, the competitive marketplace that’s been created—in a lot of cases, the fact that you have to compete against Microsoft themselves.”

[Related: Zix Rolls Out New Platform With Upgraded Interface, Protection]

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Gilbert offered the remarks Thursday during a session at the XChange+ 2020 Virtual Experience, which is being presented by CRN parent The Channel Company.

Since the acquisition of AppRiver in 2019, the team at Zix has “completely reimagined our business, and we’ve rebuilt everything from the ground up,” Gilbert said. “We’ve reimagined every part of our business and our partners’ experience.”

Zix’s new secure modern workplace offering is a layer that wraps around Microsoft 365, Gilbert said. And the offering is benefiting from AppRiver’s long-standing partnership with Microsoft, he said.

“Much of the [Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider] program that you use today was built based on our initial experiences in helping Microsoft launch the program,” Gilbert said.

Without a doubt, Microsoft “has done an excellent job” of providing security and compliance for its own solutions, said Scott Burba, vice president of Alpharetta, Ga.-based Abel Solutions.

“But when it comes to specialized components and needs, especially around encryption, Zix AppRiver is still the go-to,” Burba said. “It works exceptionally well in concert with Microsoft.”

Overall, Zix AppRiver has “done a very good job of not trying to compete with Microsoft—but to instead round out the offerings, and make them more robust, and take them to the next level,” Burba said.

At Andover, Mass.-based BNMC, “our biggest challenge now is with email spoofing and phishing and ransomware,” said Roger Michelson, vice president and chief operating officer of the solution provider, a longtime partner of both Zix and AppRiver. “It is a constant battle.”

However, Microsoft is “the 800-pound gorilla. They can’t do everything,” Michelson said. “So if companies like AppRiver and Zix enhance their products to really help the industry out with this, that‘s what we’re looking for—to stop [email threats] before it gets to the point of the wire request being sent out.”

In April, Zix unveiledSecure Cloud—which combines the security and compliance offering from Zix’s AppRiver acquisition with its own offering to create a single platform that safeguards digital communication tools.

At the application level, Zix unveiled enhancements to Secure Cloud’s advanced threat capabilities ranging from sandboxing and messaging protection to integrations with SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) platforms. Up to that point, Zix’s technology had been mostly focused on protecting against phishing, malware and business email compromise (BEC) attacks.

Secure Cloud consists of Secure Suites, oriented around security, compliance and productivity; the Secure Platform, which brings disparate services together into a single portal; and Cyber Intelligence, which includes threat analysis and machine learning to enable the platform.

Meanwhile, in terms of helping Zix partners address some of the challenges with Microsoft 365, “we thought it was time to bring new tools to bear to give our partners a competitive advantage,” Gilbert said.

“Now, we provide every partner of AppRiver and Zix, for free, the tools and data to help them differentiate themselves from their competitors,” he said.

The tools are part of Zix’s Microsoft 365 security audit and can help partners look into a Microsoft instance, uncover the security gaps and get recommendations to address the gaps, he said.

“But this tool isn’t just for existing customers. What’s great about it is that it also helps our partners to land new customers because it works with prospects as well,” Gilbert said.

Zix is also “reimagining our Microsoft partner experience” through one-on-one consultative efforts, aimed at helping partners get the higher levels of margins from Microsoft that were more common a decade ago, Gilbert said.

“Microsoft has a really rich rebate system for the MSP community. The only problem really are the hurdles that partners have to face in navigating through that system,” he said. “We’re challenging that idea, though. ... We provide our partners with consultations and regular updates to help them go back to this old-school type of margin. We’re helping our partners find incentives, accelerators, rebates—and a lot of it for activities that they’re already doing every day.”

Burba said he has seen this level of assistance from Zix AppRiver at Abel Solutions. Zix AppRiver has been “engaging with us to help us take full advantage of our Microsoft partnership,” Burba said.

That’s included help with “taking advantage of some of the incentive programs we didn’t even know existed,” he said.

Ultimately with Zix AppRiver, “they are responsive, they are engaging, they will go the extra mile for the partnership,” Burba said. “Their willingness to work with us is something I’ve never seen before in any other partnership.”

[Editor’s Note: To attend the virtual event or view sessions on demand, visit the XChange+ registration page.]