OpenText Cybersecurity Exec: ‘We Are A Partner-First Company—We Cannot Do This On Our Own’

‘We need our partners, we value our partners and everything that we do is for the benefit of this mutual growth between us and the partners. I want to look at partners’ plans or look at their growth plans. I want to see their vision three, five years from now,’ says OpenText Cybersecurity’s Ghassan Lababidi.


Ghassan Lababidi

Most MSPs know OpenText Cybersecurity as an information management software company, but Ghassan Lababidi wants MSPs to know that it’s a lot more than that.

Through a host of acquisitions, its end-to-end portfolio caters to MSPs and their SMB customers. Lababidi, vice president of cybersecurity, partner ecosystem, SMB channel and global alliances at Ontario, Canada-based OpenText Cybersecurity, said dealing with one vendor makes it easier for MSPs to engage and save money “because they can benefit from all the offers that we have in place.”

“They’re resilient, they’re secure, they’re protected and they can manage their data the way they want to,” he told CRN.

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In August, OpenText Cybersecurity acquired Cork, Ireland-based business process and project management solutions company KineMatik. The company provides workflow automation, document change control, project management and electronic lab notebook solutions built on OpenText Cybersecurity’s content server.

[Related: Barracuda Attackers Targeted Governments Across U.S.: Researchers]

KineMatik works with organizations in the life science, technology, finance and energy industries to enhance their digital and content services transformation through tailored automation solutions.

But for Lababidi it’s not just about acquisitions to offer partner solutions, it’s all about the partner journey.

“We need our partners, we value our partners and everything that we do is for the benefit of this mutual growth between us and the partners,” he said. “I want to look at partners’ plans or look at their growth plans. I want to see their vision three, five years from now. Then I want to share the same with them. Together we’re going to come up with a plan on how we can grow their business together.”

Lababidi spoke with CRN to talk more about how OpenText Cybersecurity is helping partners with their business, security trends and what’s to come for the rest of the year.

When it comes to cybersecurity, what are your partners’ biggest pain points?

The biggest challenge that customers and partners face at the same time is cost savings. For partners, it’s profitability and simplifying their security programs. If you talk to partners, many of them have to deal with multiple vendors to get their entire cybersecurity solution figured out. That’s not the case with us. With OpenText Cybersecurity, we are an end-to-end full cybersecurity data protection and data management offer that you can implement as is and run your business.

Many of us after COVID-19 have adapted to a new lifestyle, a new working style and a new engagement style. Most of our lives now are virtual. All of that costs money to set up, and partners and customers consequently are looking for ways to save money so some of them choose to go to Security as a Service. An MSP for example, they get packaged cyber security in its entirety per user. They don’t need to invest in a full-blown IT solution. That works particularly for MSPs because they can bundle that with other offerings that they have from other vendors and give SMBs a full-blown solution for their entire IT needs. That’s the biggest concern that we see with customers and partners: profitability, ease of doing business, the right engagement model when it comes to customers, dealing with one vendor rather than multiple, cost savings and finding the right vendor.

How is OpenText Cybersecurity helping with those pain points?

From the portfolio point of view, I think the acquisitions that we’ve made would solve for a lot of that. So that’s No. 1. No. 2 is when it comes to partner suitability and engagement, you need to have tools. Every vendor out there that you speak with has a partner program, they have rebates, they have incentives, they have experts that could support you as a partner with sales motions and market insights. It really comes down to the engagement and the ease of doing business.

If you are too complex to work with, partners move away and they choose to work with somebody else. But you still need to have everything to see the value as a vendor. At OpenText Cybersecurity, how we solve for that is we want to identify your routes to market. Defining that route to market will define the investment you make in your sales team, your product pitch, your product portfolio and in your marketing offer. We also introduce the tiering of the partner. Obviously the higher you’re tiering with us you will get more access to sales support, sales leads and marketing development funds.

The third part is the overall partner journey. It’s how we are building our partner journey to make sure that the partners understand we are a partner-first company—we cannot do this on our own.

What are some cybersecurity trends you’re watching right now?

I will default to our survey that we put out, our cybersecurity threat report. If we’re talking MSPs, I would say 82 percent of them have seen growth in IT and IT services, so growth is a key factor. A key trend that we’re seeing is everybody is after cybersecurity, which is a great indicator for all of the cybersecurity vendors to make sure they continue to invest in their R&D, their offerings, their marketing and sales team, and in their partner ecosystem to grow.

The financial segment and the health-care segment are probably the most vulnerable and breached segments that we see. Other trends we see is the need for education and learning from our partners. This is a fast-moving industry and every day hackers get smarter so we need to be a lot smarter than them. We’re seeing a lot of partners and customers invest in their learning capabilities and their knowledge. Customers are looking for partners who have knowledge, expertise and certifications that they can rely on to help them grow their business.

How do you think the macroeconomic environment and all these tech layoffs we’ve been seeing in the industry impact security?

It definitely has a huge impact on that. With the layoffs, I know it is affecting the teams who look after that part of the business which is exposing the business to threats. This is a serious situation that we’re facing and I wish companies could think twice before they make such moves. Unfortunately that’s the industry we work in. We go through cycles, hire and fire every quarter. If you are a partner or a vendor, people should be your biggest assets in any organization or company. If you don’t have that asset available anymore then of course you are exposed to [threats].

If you’re a vendor, you’re exposed to not being able to catch up with the market. You’re not being able to stand out as a vendor or that preferred lender to your partners and customers. If you’re a partner, you have to do this to sustain your business and ensure continuity and profitability in the long run.

You are certainly exposing yourself no matter how much you are able to automate your business. There needs to be a human element in everything that we do. We are big on AI and machine learning, and I think that is the future for all of us, but there will always be a human element that you cannot discount.

How do you think AI and ChatGPT impact cybersecurity?

You could look at it in two ways. You could look at it as an asset for you to keep up with the trend and work in solutions to make sure you’re resilient and your business is secure toward any potential breaches. But as a user you are also subject to potential breaches because you don’t know who is working in the background and where you’re exposing your information or assets. There’s good and bad in both ways depending on how you use it, how you want it to help and how much you are exposing yourself.

What makes OpenText Cybersecurity stand out from the competition?

We are an end-to-end solution cybersecurity and resilience company that really gives the benefit and the edge for any customers to utilize our portfolio. We offer a single pane of glass and are really one vendor for all of your cybersecurity needs. The second thing is we’re also growing through acquisitions that we make. Every time you make an acquisition you bring in a new set of talent, smart people, solutions and technology that you can only add to enhance your overall portfolio. We are known as an information management company but we’re also a security and data protection company as well.

What can partners expect from OpenText Cybersecurity throughout the rest of the year?

I am trying to consolidate as many of our acquisitions under one partner program, particularly for MSPs. In the long run, we’re looking at the cyber resiliency part of the microfocus business that falls under our SMB portfolio. We’re launching an automated MDF program, which we are piloting this month and we’re kicking off our partner Executive Advisory Board in October during our OpenText World conference.