Endpoint/Device Security, Content

BlackBerry CEO: How Cylance Differentiates In Unified Endpoint Security

BlackBerry Cylance delivered a strong quarter with 300 new customer wins, and the cybersecurity business remains well-positioned for the long haul -- even amid the short-term coronavirus pandemic turbulence, BlackBerry CEO John Chen told Wall Street analysts on March 31.

Key wins include a major customer deal led by Verizon, a Top 200 MSSP that works closely with BlackBerry Cylance.

BlackBerry CFO Steve Rai
BlackBerry CEO John Chen

During the earnings call, Chen described how BlackBerry will leverage mobile, cloud, on-premises and MDR (managed detection and response) cybersecurity service to differentiate from rivals. He also vowed that BlackBerry Cylance will integrate its Unified Endpoint Security with Microsoft Intune, VMware AirWatch and other enterprise management systems that compete with BlackBerry Unified Endpoint Management (UEM).

COVID-19 - Business Impact Scenarios: Still, Chen and CFO Steve Rai also offered a bold reality check during the call. BlackBerry has considered scenarios where revenue drops by 20%, 30% and even 50%. Even in a "very extreme condition" -- which BlackBerry is not anticipating -- the company remains quite comfortable with its ability maintain its financial health, Chen said.

BlackBerry Cylance: Recent Milestones, Next Moves

Amid the short-term turbulence, BlackBerry continues to execute an overall plan that includes:

1. Integrating Spark -- a secure IoT platform -- with Cylance. In February 2020, BlackBerry released a Unified Endpoint Security (UES) layer within the Spark platform that leverages AI, machine learning and automation to deliver zero trust security across auto fixed and mobile endpoints.

2. The UES layer is supported by six initial products, which include:

  • Endpoint Protection Platform (EPP);
  • Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR);
  • Mobile Threat Defense (MTD);
  • Continuous Authentication;
  • Data Loss Prevention (DLP); and
  • Secure Web Gateway.

Together, Chen said, those products analyze and define risk; make contextual decision based on large amount of shared data; and dynamically apply a set of policy controls to address customer environment risks.

3. Product Convergence, particularly around MTD with EDR and EPP tools moving into the Unified Endpoint Security stack. Customers, in turn, increasingly need a unified endpoint management console to oversee all of those services.

4. Team Convergence: Amid the goals above, BlackBerry integrated the entire Cylance organization (including sales and R&D teams) into the IoT business segment, effective March 1, 2020. "We believe the unified team leads to broader customer coverage, a richer product roadmap, a clearer sales message, and most importantly, very differentiated offerings," Chen said.

5. Integration with Microsoft Intune & VMware AirWatch: The Unified Endpoint Security (UES) products now work with BlackBerry UEM (Unified Endpoint Management). But to make sure UES appeals to the broadest set of customers possible, UES solution will be made compatible with Microsoft Intune, VMware AirWatch and other competitors’ UEM products to "give customer the best of both worlds. Namely, preserving existing investment while enjoying the benefit of the higher security and management that BlackBerry provides," Chen said.

6. BlackBerry Cylance vs. CrowdStrike and Others: So how will BlackBerry differentiate from rival endpoint protection providers? Chen didn't address rivals by name, but he asserted that BlackBerry Cylance typically wins deals because the company has three competitive advantages:

  • Mobile expertise:"We're the mobile leader."
  • Hybrid options: "We don't always need the cloud. So, we do secure protection on the endpoint, both offline and online."
  • Managed security services: "We have now a managed service and the full suite of products. So, that also is a factor. So, those are -- among other things, those are three that I feel jumped out at me, when I look at the win."

BlackBerry: Overall Business Performance

BlackBerry's GAAP revenue for Q4 of fiscal 2020 was $282 million, up 11 percent from Q4 of fiscal 2019. Shares rose about 5 percent in after-hours trading -- an indication that Wall Street believes BlackBerry can navigate the coronavirus pandemic while also continuing to build out its cybersecurity business.

Joe Panettieri

Joe Panettieri is co-founder & editorial director of MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E, the two leading news & analysis sites for managed service providers in the cybersecurity market.