Q1 Labs Finds Success with Channel Partners

The network security company steps up its channel efforts as revenue grows 145 percent. Some 70 percent of sales already involve channel partners and that percentage likely will increase.

Network security management company Q1 Labs recently announced that it had added more than 100 new customers in the first half of 2008 and increased revenue 145 percent revenue over the same period last year. The company credited the growth not only to the strength of its products, but also to its multi-channel sales strategy, which includes the company’s Q-Alliance channel partner program and a few strategic OEM partnerships.

The channel generates more than 70 percent of annual sales, company executives said. As part of their solution, VARs offer the QRadar network security management platform, which covers log management, threat management and compliance management. “Unlike technologies and platforms in the past that were focused on just monitoring the network, or those that have focused just on monitoring the security products protecting that network, we converge both views – both sets of surveillance data – so that you get not only a better overall picture of what’s going on, but a more accurate summary of what you should react to,” said Tom Turner, Q1 Labs’ vice president of channel sales.

The company currently works with three key strategic OEM partners: Juniper Networks, Nortel and Enterasys. “They deliver our technology in branded appliances to their worldwide customer base,” Turner said. John Burnham, the company’s vice president of corporate marketing, said those partners have turned to Q1 Labs largely to fend off competition from Cisco’s MARS security monitoring product.

In comparison, Q1 Labs works with more than 140 Q-Alliance channel and VAR partners – mostly domestic, but a growing number of international ones as well. “Our OEMs and our channel partners are satisfying a similar goal. They give us a force multiplier in the market, and they are already dealing with a broad set of different customers in terms of size and sophistication,” Turner said.

A channel partner can also offer services that aren’t part of Q1 Labs’ domain. “We’re not a services play; we deliver a product,” Turner said. “We’re delighted when our VAR channel partners are able to add their own services.”

The company wants to increase the percentage of sales through the channel over time. "We’ve recently added head count in the field to directly support our channel partners, particularly VARs, and we’re continuing to do that,” Burnham said.

Turner said Q1 Labs is actively seeking partners that are already selling both networking and security infrastructure, and acting as trusted third parties, proactively advising their customers on deployments. “We look for the partners that are doing that with different verticals today, and above and beyond that, partners that are able to deliver training, that like to deliver professional services, and that like to actively market what they’re doing, both from a product and a solution standpoint, to customers,” he said.

In turn, Turner said, such partners are attracted to Q1 Labs both by the company’s fast growth and by QRadar’s ease of use. “Historically, the early players in the space were extremely complex and required an awful lot of dedicated vendor professional services to get up and running,” he said. “We have spent a lot of time on our product, our packaging and our architecture. So, increasingly, there’s a lot of out-of-the-box capability, which means it’s a lot more channel-friendly in the ability for a partner to be able to not just tell a customer how we’re going to solve their problem, but then to be able to deliver that in a pretty short timeframe.”

 Turner said he’s proud of the way the partner programs are designed. “Everything in our price list has margin for our partners,” he said. “We do partner certification, we have multiple tiers of partners according to how much work they’re doing with us and what investment they’ve made, we have MDF programs, we do deal registration. We have all the components in place that make us a good company for our channel partners to do business with.”

Looking ahead, Burnham said he expects Q1 Labs’ recent growth to continue, particularly as the number of wireless endpoints in the average deployment continues to grow. “Our channel partners love working with us, particularly as they learn how scalable our offering is,” he said. “We can help our partners be proactive in dealing with their customers to lay out a strategy that says, ‘Here’s your network, here’s a reference architecture that we would recommend – and here’s where you want to place the QRadar solutions to help you stay in front of the attacks and the offenses that are coming.’”

TAGS: security,services,wireless,VARs

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