Channel Insider content and product recommendations are editorially independent. We may make money when you click on links to our partners. Learn More.

WhiteHat’s channel is white hot. The security software company announced it grew its indirect business by over 250 percent in 2009. The company also recently hired an experienced team of channel executives, headed by Lucent veteran Bob Cariddi, to spearhead its sales and partner efforts.

WhiteHat’s web site risk management service, based on its Sentinel platform, helps business end-users continually test and pinpoint security flaws in websites. The company counts big-name online retailers like eTrade and CVS Caremark among its 300 customers and 1500 managed websites.

In Q4 of last year, WhiteHat shifted its sales strategy to focus entirely on the channel, signing up a large network of VARs and securing a handful of embedded software relationships.  WhiteHat CEO Stephanie Fohn says selling through partners in the security marketplace is the “right thing to do,” pointing to customers’ desires to purchase through consultants, VARs and software providers that provide end-to-end security solutions for their customers and clients.

“Systems Integrators and VARs have a trust relationship with the customer, and that is built over time,” said Fohn,  “That’s how customers like to buy and so, that’s how you should sell.

Shortly after the company’s inception in 2003, WhiteHat began to develop its channel, but focused mainly on securing flagship and reference customers that would drive additional business and make the company a recognized leader in the market.

“First, when you are very small, have to figure out how to sell your product, build brand name customers,” said Fohn.  “The channel won’t sell your product unless there is demand and pull.”

The company slowly grew the percentage of indirect sales over the next three years, and finalized its 100 percent indirect sales plan in 2009. Last year, the company signed up large resellers and solution providers like Verizon Business Solutions as well as regional VARs. The company also has established private-label embedded software relationships with security software vendors like Fortify Software.

Dan Cornell, chief technology officer at WhiteHat partner and security software firm the Denim Group thinks WhiteHat’s strategy shift is smart.

“It lets WhiteHat focus on what they are good at and lets us focus on what we are good at,” said Cornell.
WhiteHat’s network of partners are largely focused on the traditional early adopter markets for security solutions, including highly regulated industries that have the need for highly private data. Fohn lists ecommerce, financial services, healthcare, IT services and the federal sector as areas where WhiteHat is gaining the most traction.

Fohn is optimistic about the revenue potential for WhiteHat and its reseller partners in 2010. She points to projected market growth and WhiteHat’s revenue model as good reasons for VARs to sign-up with WhiteHat.

“The important thing for us is that we can show our partners that they can not only generate additional revenue, but on top of our service that there are a lot of complementary services they can provide,” said Fohn. “Because we have a platform that enables website risk management, they can create programs around website risk management programs.”

To help WhiteHat forge additional relationships and support the sales efforts of partners, Fohn recently brought on Cariddi, a veteran of Lucent, Teneros and netForensics. Cariddi brings more than twenty years of channel and sales experience to WhiteHat’s executive team.

Cariddi says, “I am eager to extend WhiteHat Sentinel’s reach into new channels and technology partnerships and support partner go-to-market activities and plans in 2010.”

Silicon Valley-based WhiteHat currently employs 65 employees and is venture-backed.