Bonus Post: Late News from CompTIA ChannelCon

Man oh man was there a lot going on at CompTIA’s ChannelCon event in Las Vegas last week. I’d tell you all about it but, you know, what happens in Vegas…

That said, I’ve finally gotten around to writing up my take on several stories that broke during the show. And since two other interesting stories involving companies I spoke with at ChannelCon also happen to have broken today, I’ve got some thoughts on those for you too.

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Barracuda and Cork team up on warranty coverage

Let’s start with a story that combines a name familiar to most IT providers—Barracuda Networks—with a newer name that should ring bells for Channelholic subscribers, Cork. The two companies have joined forces on a new addition to Barracuda’s XDR solution offering warranty coverage against spear phishing, ransomware, and business email compromise attacks.

“You can do all the right things and bad stuff can still just happen,” says Neal Bradbury (pictured center), senior vice president for Barracuda’s MSP business. “We want to be able to provide quick and immediate access to funds that compliment a cybersecurity offering so that when something happens, we’re there to help and people have the protection they need.”

Officially called the Barracuda Cyber Warranty, the new offering provides $100,000 of coverage to full-stack users of Barracuda’s XDR suite, which includes cloud, email, endpoint, network, and server security components. The policy will come with those products by default “at a little bit of extra cost,” Bradbury says, adding that users who don’t want the protection can opt out.

The warranty, which is scheduled to ship in the U.S. next month with availability in other countries to follow, provides faster access to post-incident financial support than cyberinsurance policies, according to Carlson Choi (pictured left), Cork’s CEO. “We’re talking about paying in days versus months, so the MSP can get right back to work and help the customer get right back into business.”

Like Cork’s standard warranties, Barracuda Cyber Warranty includes real-time detection of changes in an end user’s environment—like suspending MFA—that could compromise safety. “This is exactly the same model: continuous monitoring, continuous underwriting, continuous assessing and protecting against cyber risk,” Choi says.

Unlike Cork’s other warranties, however, Barracuda’s edition includes compensation for ransom payments and wire transfers, and applies only to breaches involving Barracuda XDR solution versus multiple products in an MSP’s stack.

Barracuda products are not among the roughly 30 security solutions Cork’s standard offering was integrated with as of July, and won’t be available through that product in the future. According to Choi, Barracuda is the only security vendor with an exclusive Cork-based warranty, and is likely to remain so.

“We’re very picky about getting this right,” he says, noting that the Barracuda Cyber Warranty has been in the works for over nine months.

Founded in 2022, Cork is led by a board of directors that includes Datto founder Austin McChord and former Tesla executive Jon McNeill. Its standard warranties are currently available only through a fully-subscribed early access program, with general availability expected this fall.

BitLyft now has a partner program

MDR vendor BitLyft Cybersecurity has introduced its first-ever partner program for MSPs and VARs.

Launched last week at ChannelCon and officially unveiled today, the new offering gives members access to marketing collateral, sales training, technical support, and a range of other benefits.

BitLyft’s flagship product, named BitLyft AIR (as in “automated incident response”), takes care of some seventy to eighty percent of the routine security issues that cost MSPs time and money.

“If you think about all of the things that could have been done for you and you’re making a mental list of throughout your day, those are the things that we can automate,” said Jason Miller (pictured right) last week in a conversation at ChannelCon.

Assistance with more demanding tasks is supplied around the clock by a managed SOC. “We’re threat hunting, we’re looking on the dark web, seeing and understanding what’s being talked about and what’s transacting there, and then how will that maybe affect our customers,” Miller says. That part of the package, he continues, enables MSPs to keep clients safe without shelling out big sums for scarce, and thus expensive, security analysts.

“We become basically an extension of their team,” Miller says. “If they have questions or concerns, they can come to us.”

Miller, who previously founded and sold cloud ERP vendor Reviora, launched BitLyft in 2017. The company is relatively new to the channel.

“We love the channel and the MSP market, and so it’s something that we’re going after hard and fast,” says Miller, noting that BitLyft’s direct salesforce is strictly forbidden from poaching a partner’s leads or customers.

BitLyft AIR integrates with solutions from Amazon Web Services, Cisco, CrowdStrike, Fortinet, LogRhythm, Microsoft, Palo Alto Networks, SentinelOne, Sophos, and Trend Micro, among others.

Channel marketers finally have a community of their own

Marketing a product of any kind is a refined art. Marketing a product to and through channel partners ups the complexity of that art even further, according to Amy Bailey (pictured), owner of marketing agency Unusually Unusual Consulting.

“Channel marketing is different from other kinds of marketing,” she says.

To help the people responsible for that work navigate the unique challenges of a demanding job, Bailey and Kathryn Rose, founder of sales and marketing consultancy channelWise, have founded the Channel Marketing Association, a new community offering access to subject matter expertise, peer-to-peer advice, and more.

“We wanted to create a place for channel marketers to come together, share best practices, be supported, get research, ask questions, get answers, and just really have a community where they feel loved and safe and supported,” Bailey says.

Members get access to educational webinars, white papers, case studies, livestreamed online gatherings, and a community chat site. The organization will host an in-person conference featuring hands-on workshop exercises as well next April.

Rose dismisses concerns potential members might have about sharing ideas with potential competitors. “There’s plenty of business to go around,” she says. “It’s not a zero-sum game.”

Though membership in the organization is free at present, Bailey and Rose plan to charge a nominal fee in the future for reasons every marketer will appreciate.

“If the information is valuable, there should be a cost to it,” Rose says.

Channel Program is giving MSPs visibility into their solution stack

Channelholic regulars will recall a piece I wrote in March about a then forthcoming partner relationship management system from Channel Program, the MSP community led by ID Agent veterans Kevin Lancaster and Matt Solomon.

Last week’s launch of NaviStack, a system that visually lays out all the vendors in an MSP’s solution stack, marks the duo’s latest step toward turning an operation best known for free online events that let MSPs learn about new products without surrendering their anonymity into a broader platform for researching and communicating with vendors.

According to Solomon (pictured), MSPs have long wanted an easy, centralized way for everyone in the company to see all of the products they use and sell. “The visual representation is something we’ve been hearing from the MSPs that they’ve wanted to see,” he says. “The owner might know every product, and maybe the technician does too, but there’s a benefit to visualizing it and having everybody in your organization on the same page.”

The new system, available to Channel Program members at no additional cost, makes spotting gaps in a solution stack easier as well, and includes tools for discovering and requesting information from vendors with relevant offerings. Users can also click through to a vendor’s PRM listing if they have one. Vendors needn’t be PRM users or even enrolled in Channel Program, however, to show up on NaviStack maps.

At launch, NaviStack supported about 400 vendors in roughly 30 product categories, with more coming daily in response to MSP input. “We don’t know every product that’s out there,” Solomon notes.

Within the next two months, users will also have access to an automated benchmarking feature that lets them compare their stack with that of their peers. “If you’re an MSP in Albuquerque and you’re at $2 million and you have 1,000 endpoints or what have you, you can start to see across different geographies what other MSPs of that size have in their stack [and] the strength of their stack based on product reviews,” Lancaster says.

NaviStack has benefits for vendors as well as MSPs, he continues. “It’s a way to recruit within the platform, and then if they turn on the [PRM] portal they can manage their channel,” he says. “So it’s kind of a first of a kind place where you can recruit, manage, and enable your entire channel all in one platform.”

By consolidating bulletins from multiple vendors in a single place, Solomon adds, NaviStack also gives vendors a better option than email for keeping in touch with partners.

“When a vendor sends out a product update [in email], on the best day they’re going to get a 40% open rate, and that’s the best day. So 60% of your MSPs don’t even know you did a product update. But if you start aggregating into a single source, they start seeing a lot more of it. That’s going to lead to more engagement and less churn.”

Coming soon to Channel Program’s PRM are support for deal registration and MDF management. The bigger, longer-term goal is to pull together everything MSPs need to go to market with vendors in one location.

“We want to become the homepage for the MSP,” Solomon says.

SaaS Alerts aims to make finding and fixing security vulnerabilities simpler

Global spending on security products and services will rise a robust 11.3% this year, according to Gartner. Spending on cloud security (and management), however, will grow an even better 23%.

None of that surprises Jim Lippie (pictured), CEO of cloud security vendor SaaS Alerts. In the age of hybrid work and cloud-based everything, securing endpoints is necessary but deeply insufficient.

“There’s always going to be a need for firewalls and protection on devices, but if you’re going to ask me what should be the priority on the security side, I think it’s following the user,” he says. “The user is where everything happens.”

Just consider the consequences if your laptop dies in the middle of an event like ChannelCon, he observes, and you log into email from a shared PC at the hotel. “There’s no way an MSP could forecast that they would need to put an agent on that computer in the business center at The Venetian.” And they don’t need to either, Lippie continues, if they have the kind of device-agnostic, follow-the-user protection offered by solutions like SaaS Alerts.

The latest addition to the SaaS Alerts platform, unveiled during ChannelCon last week, is a feature set named Fortify that automatically identifies deviations in an end user environment from Microsoft’s recommended cloud security best practices. The system, which is now available for beta testing and enters general availability on August 15th, automatically remediates approximately 30 flaws uncovered by its assessments as well.

“We’ll be expanding that list as we go,” Lippie says.

In addition to identifying and eliminating dangerous vulnerabilities in end user infrastructures, the new offering’s multitenant interface boosts MSP efficiency as well, he adds.

“It saves the MSP a ton of time, because now they have one central location to go to manage the configuration and policies around all of their [Microsoft] 365 tenants, as opposed to going in on an individual basis,” Lippie says.

The new solution fills a need many SaaS Alerts partners report struggling with. “MSPs have been pushing us to include this in our platform,” Lippie says.

Fortify is the first optional add-on to the SaaS Alerts platform that requires paying an incremental fee. Existing partners can deploy the system at no extra cost until October 1st.

The next major addition to the SaaS Alerts platform, due to arrive in December, will also require users to pay extra. Lippie declined to specify what that system will do.

Fortify’s arrival comes some four months after the last addition to the SaaS Alerts platform. Called Unify, that system is designed to enhance security monitoring by incorporating data from RMM agents.