M86 Security Takes on Bigger VendorsBy Ericka Chickowski | Print
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The security company born through the merger of 8e6 Technologies and Marshal aims to use the energy gained from its name change to recruit new partners and take on larger rivals McAfee, Symantec and Websense in the Web gateway security market.
Just a few weeks after a name change and a little under 11 months after a merger between Marshal and 8e6 Technologies, M86 Security has high aspirations to take on major security players such as Websense and McAfee in the secure Web gateway market with the help of a new slate of products and a motivated base of channel partners. The question is, can the company overcome name-recognition issues, a sluggish economy and an already crowded security market?
John Notham, director of channel sales for the Americas for M86 Security, believes so.
"Our products are going to be on par with where folks like Websense, Symantec and McAfee are with their secure Web gateway products and a whole host of security options available," Notham says.
Over the past year, the company has worked to synthesize 8e6’s Web filtering secret sauce with the e-mail security technology developed by Marshal to solidify its position in the Web gateway security pantheon. While the timing of the acquisition—right in the teeth of the financial marketplace gale—has surely thrown a curveball into the already tricky process of merging, Notham says the two companies are better off now through their marriage.
"When you look at what the two companies put together, it gives us the ability from a technological standpoint, a market standpoint and a financial standpoint to really execute toward what is essentially the goal of moving us to the upper right quadrant of the Gartner and Forrester research of where the security space is going—most of that being the secure Web gateway area," Notham says.
To fill in the holes, in April M86 also picked up behavioral malware detection company Avinti to help it better handle blended e-mail attack.
During the transition period this year, the company has worked behind the scenes to get the business side of the house in order as well. This means roping in an infusion of new cash and carrying out a shakeup in executive leadership.
The company garnered an undisclosed sum of new investments to carry it into 2010, says Notham. The investment helped M86 Security draw in some new leadership to the company, including CEO John Vigouroux. Formerly hailing from Finjan, where he led as CEO, Vigouroux took the helm for M86 Security in April.
This month M86 is starting to see the fruits of all of these labors. On Sept. 9 it released WebMarshal 6.5, its first big launch since the merger and acquisition of Avinti, and next quarter it will release the new version of its 8e6-developed technology.
Of course, putting out a decent product is only about a quarter of the battle in IT security—you’ve also got to make the market care. M86 has clearly been struggling with name recognition problems—it is no secret considering that only 10 months after a name-changing acquisition the company chose again to switch its branding from Marshal8e6 to M86 Security on Sept. 2. Notham says the change is part of a significant push of resources toward marketing and branding campaigns.
"One of the things you're seeing immediately out of the new combined organization is an aggressive approach toward rebranding the company and marketing the company as well as investing in the resources so that we do fare well on technical evaluations by the folks at Gartner and Forrester," Notham says. "We feel like that’s going to help a lot."
The jury’s still out as to whether the new marketing efforts will succeed. But as M86 Security dukes it out with bigger security competitors, company brass firmly believe that its future hinges on the channel.
"Our go-to-market strategy is to be a channel company," Notham says.
All this year, Notham and his team have been working on expanding and developing the company’s channel program. In April it rolled out a revamped North American channel program that included improved deal registration, a better partner portal and more staff resources dedicated to supporting the channel. Notham says the biggest focus is on good margins and partner engagement.
"We've got a program set up that rewards very well for deal registration," he says. "That's kind of at the core of it—ensuring that people get high margins."
He also notes that M86 Security guarantees partners its customers for subscription renewals if they bring in that customer the first time around.
Notham says that M86 Security also wants to help make closing sales less expensive for its partners. For example, most recently it unveiled a new program that offers product video demos that partners can share with customers. And next month it will pull the covers from a co-op program that allows partners to send out e-mail blasts that invite prospects to an informational WebEx meeting. When the prospect attends, that company is automatically logged as the partner’s customer in the deal registration system.
Also on tap in Q4 is a new training and certification program designed to help partners understand the full capabilities of the M86 Security suite as its products continue to grow more robust and complex.
With the right channel support, Notham believes that partners should be able to sell M86 Security into customers looking for a good value for their security spend.
"We're going to emerge here in the next six months as one of the key players or alternatives for a partner to sell. When they look at what we're offering and then they look at the value of what we're offering for the price, they tend to immediately understand that we're a serious competitor in this economy. [We’re] what I'd call the price value leader," Notham says. "We aren't pricing real low, but we're pricing in a way that is just a good solid value for what we're offering."