Cyber security vendor CrowdStrike made its name in the endpoint arena, but as its regional channel chief Jon Fox says, “that’s not who [they] are anymore”.
Following a flurry of investment and acquisitions, CrowdStrike is now positioning itself as the one-stop platform for endpoint, cloud, log management, access and Zero Trust. Now it needs partners to bring it all together.
Speaking to ARN, Fox, CrowdStrike's Asia Pacific and Japan (APJ) senior channel director, stressed that while the vendor’s solution suite was broadening, its partner training and enablement was taking a sharper focus.
“We’re continuing to build out our certification program and it’s very well co-opted by our channel,” Fox explained. “As opposed to a tick-box exercise of three sales and three technical to reach a certain metal tier, we‘re trying to get role-based training that is meaningful to individuals and businesses.
“That to me is the benefit of training and enablement: it impacts the support a customer ultimately gets.”
Fox joined the Austin-based cyber security vendor in January as its APJ channel lead. A month earlier, he left Sophos after spending five-and-a-half years as its channel lead for Australia and New Zealand (A/NZ) and then later across the APJ region.
Now, almost one year on and armed with a bolstered channel team, Fox is tasked with helping launch the global CrowdStrike Powered Service Provider Program (CPSP) in APJ, which aims to help managed security services providers (MSP) leverage the vendor’s Falcon platform.
Although CrowdStrike has been working with MSPs for several years, the CPSP launch “formalises the rules of engagement", according to Fox.
“We’re giving partners an expanded solution offering,” he said. “In the past, we were known as an endpoint EDR [extended detection and response], but now we are a security platform. This program is helping our MSSPs [managed security service provider] to expand into other areas and giving them specific solution bundles they can roll out to their customers.“
Likewise, getting ahead with the CPSP necessitates a return to the classroom, with more than 20 modules available for partners to tackle.
Modules include CrowdStrike’s endpoint solutions, log management, identity protection and cloud workload.
Further training also comes in the form of CrowdStrike University, which focuses on implementing and managing the CrowdStrike Falcon platform.
The vendor is also trialling a new training platform – Falcon Champions – which is expected to be rolled out to all partners in due course.
The reason for this huge emphasis on training is simple, according to Fox. “CISOs don’t want multiple vendor products now,” he said. “They want a full suite and platform approach, so they can manage it from one dashboard. When the partners add other products and services, they create that over-arching solution. Through that, they deliver an all-encompassing solution to the customer.
“We now want to build out a channel that truly embraces the different modules and the platform; partners who aren’t just going in and selling endpoint – that’s not who we are anymore,” Fox added.
In A/NZ in particular, this is especially applicable to the region’s huge cohort of MSSPs and MSPs.
“The MSP business is growing so quickly here and A/NZ is a very MSP-centric region,” Fox said. “We need to make sure we have the right set of partners locally and make sure we have the right penetration.”
Fox’s arrival at CrowdStrike also comes as the vendor launches a new invitation-only ‘Elite tier’ of partners that “incentivises CPSP partners with campaigns, capabilities and expanded market opportunities".
Although Fox said there is global support in certifying local partners at the Elite level, the program itself is still being “massaged” to fit the needs of APJ. However, the APJ senior channel director said around six A/NZ partners have been nominated to be certified as Elite within the coming months.
CrowdStrike keeps a tight lid on its APJ partner numbers and the amount it sells through the channel. Fox nevertheless revealed that the company has grown its partner base by 92 per cent and its customer base by 43 per cent in A/NZ year-on-year from its last financial year.
“We need to keep growing and for that we need scale,” Fox said. “This means we have to properly enable partners and help them be an extension of our sales force. How do we build out the tools for them – the programs. How do we continue to build the relationships?
“Some of this involves going deeper with our existing channel: going deeper, getting them enabled and telling the CrowdStrike story. Some of it is going into incremental channels as well. As we add more specific solutions, there’s a need to find partners that have specific skill sets.
“We want to help partners augment their skill sets. Skills shortage is still one of the biggest challenges in security globally. We want to help them when they don’t have enough resources, whether that’s technical or with marketing.”
Profitability is also top of Fox’s mind, taking on board his years in channel-facing roles, including at Arrow and Ingram Micro, with the latter being where he spent seven years.
“We’re trying to build more integrations and APIs that will hopefully lower partners’ costs, making them more efficient in securing their customers,” he added. “Then there are still the traditional benefits of discounts, rebates and marketing development funds.
“I’ve been in the channel for years. We really do a lot of cool channel-centric stuff at CrowdStrike, for and with partners.”