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BlackBerry Preps MDR Channel Partner Initiatives, CEO John Chen Says

BlackBerry CEO John Chen

BlackBerry Guard, a managed detection and response (MDR) cybersecurity service, is ramping up for a channel partner push, CEO John Chen disclosed this week during the software company’s earnings call with Wall Street analysts.

BlackBerry Guard launched in 2019 as CylanceGuard. Rebranded as BlackBerry Guard, the “relatively new [MDR platform] continues to perform well,” Chen said during the September 24 earnings call. “To take advantage of this opportunity, we plan to greatly enhance our channel programs. Certified partners will be able to deliver a managed service and threat hunting on the AI driven cybersecurity solution, greatly increasing our scale. This will differentiate us against our major competitors who prefer to provide [MDR] services themselves.”

MDR: Direct vs. Partner Sales

Indeed, numerous cybersecurity software providers increasingly promote and sell MDR directly to end-customers. Some of the offerings include reseller options, but many of the MDR options lack a true MSP or MSSP component for multi-tenant monetization and management of end-customers.

Clearly, BlackBerry wants to counter direct sales rivals with a channel-friendly MDR option. Still, Chen didn’t provide specific details about the BlackBerry Guard MDR partner initiative. Perhaps more information will surface during the BlackBerry Security Summit 2020, a virtual conference scheduled for October 5-7.

While BlackBerry’s cybersecurity tools are well-known, the emerging MDR offering faces intense market competition. Also, fully 89 percent of top MSSPs now offer some form of MDR to their end-customers, according to our MSSP 250 research report for 2020.

BlackBerry Credits Channel Partners for Financial Performance

Meanwhile, BlackBerry’s latest quarterly results were stronger than Wall Street expected. GAAP revenue was $259 million in Q2 of fiscal 2021, up from $244 million in Q2 of fiscal 2020, the company said on September 24, 2020.

In a prepared statement about the quarterly performance, Chen credited channel partner momentum and various product groups for the performance. He said:

“We are pleased to report sequential and year-over-year revenue growth this quarter, exceeding expectations, despite the ongoing challenges from COVID-19. Continued demand for our secure, ‘Work from Anywhere’, solutions remains a major driver for our BlackBerry Spark business, which performed well this quarter.  Some signs of recovery in auto production point to sequential revenue growth and a return to a normal run rate for QNX by early next year.  Continued QNX design wins and significant cybersecurity partnerships position the business strongly for the future.  We are also seeing positive signs from our focus on the key components of our go-to-market strategy, including: strong channel partnerships, marketing, customer success and investing in new talent for our sales force.”

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