Pasadena CA-based Guidance Software has been in business since 1997, selling security forensics software which has been used in high-profile criminal cases. Over the years, the company has broadened out its wares, which now include ediscovery and endpoint security. Until fairly recently, they sold only direct. Now they have signed a new distribution deal, with WestconGroup, which they see as part of a new commitment to building out a strong channel organization.
“Guidance was founded in 1997 with a forensic focus, and sold direct to government, police, defense, and security customers like the CIA,” said Jay Ackerman, Guidance’s Chief Revenue Officer. “We then moved into ediscovery, and then launched our cybersecurity product.”
Ackerman, who heads Guidance’s go-to-market efforts and has authority over everything the company does that touches customers, joined the company in December 2014, and quickly concluded their channel efforts needed improvement.
“When I joined, they has been making a shift to sell through the channel, but the problem I saw when I came on board was they hadn’t gone all the way there,” he said. “The channel offering wasn’t all that robust, and their behavior and actions led channel partners to scratch their heads at times and question Guidance’s commitment to them. We have worked hard in the last seven months to strengthen that commitment.”
The changes include a channel offering that Ackerman said will show solution providers they are serious about working with them, the creation of a certified partner track both on the sales and SE sides to show how to sell and stand up their solution, and a commitment to help resellers take on professional services work. Ultimately he indicated that his goal is to have about 50 active partners in the U.S. and Canada, driving around 40-50 per cent of their revenue in a quarter.
“We are looking to create relationships with partners who understand and are committed to our solution and are proactive about selling it,” Ackerman said. “There is a big market beyond forensics and ediscovery, where we can get that net-new customer who has never purchased from us before.”
That broad market is addressed by Guidance’s EnCase Endpoint Security solutions, which uses analytics to detect unknown threats, and provide incident response capability to effectively respond to a breach. Westcon will carry these, as well as the rest of Guidance Software’s product line.
“We are trying to take best of breed solutions to the marketplace, and we see Guidance fitting that mold for us,” said Andrew Warren, Westcon Security Practice Vice President. “The endpoint market right now is very disrupted, and there are a lot of companies in that space, but we look for market leaders.” Guidance was recognized as an endpoint detection and response tools market leader in Gartner’s November 2014 Competitive Landscape report.
Warren also stressed that as a distributor, they select vendor-partners who have a strong channel business.
“We absolutely look for a commitment to the channel, and they have had a huge push into the channel with Jay Ackerman,” he said.
Finally, since as a specialty distributor, Westcon carries a limited number of vendors – Warren said Guidance becomes one of only a couple endpoint vendors on their line card – the vendor’s compatibility with other security vendors they carry is important.
“They have good alliances with a number of our security partners like HP, Bluecoat and Cisco [Sourcefire and ThreatGRID],” he said.
Ackerman said that Guidance has been selling direct from the Fortune 100 down to the midmarket, although with only 40 internal sales people there was clearly a limit to the amount of ground they can cover.
“Resellers will be able to get after the sub-5000 market in particular much better than our direct sales force,” he said.
Ackerman also said that the channel will eventually be able to sell Guidance to smaller customers.
“There is more to be done to make it easier to use and configure by companies with small IT departments, and we are working on that,” he said.
Ackerman noted that Guidance has worked with Arrow as a distribution partner in the past, and that that relationship still remains, but that Guidance is now really focused on making Westcon relationship very successful.
“Arrow was supportive, but we think Westcon lines up better with the space we are in,” he said. “Westcon has an outstanding focus on the security space.”