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Carbon Black: Big IPO, Bigger MSSP and Incident Response Partner Plans

Carbon Black SVP Tom Barsi
Carbon Black SVP Tom Barsi

Carbon Black launched a successful IPO today, but the bigger long-term story likely involves the endpoint security company's commitment to a pure channel partner strategy. MSSPs and Incident Response (IR) partners are particularly critical to that effort, according to Tom Barsi, senior VP of corporate and business development at the company.

After its IPO this morning, Carbon Black's stock (NASDAQ: CBLK) was trading nearly 30 percent higher as of 1:15 p.m. ET today. No doubt, the company will celebrate the initial public offering throughout the day. But the cybersecurity firm also knows this is a brief moment in a longer-term journey that demands close partner relationships.

From the executive leadership to every other person in the company, Carbon Black has been consistent in terms of its partner commitment, Barsi told MSSP Alert after the IPO today.

Carbon Black and Partner Alignment

Amid the journey to IPO, Carbon Black has repeatedly stated the critical role that strategic partners, VARs, MSSPs and Incident Response partners play in the company's business growth. Among the highlights:

  • Incident Response Partners: The company has partnerships with KrollErnst & Young and over 100 incident response firms.
  • Strategic Alliances: Major partnerships with IBM and VMware could help the business reach the large global customer bases of these technology leaders.
  • VARs, Resellers and Distributors: Optiv and CDW are key names here.
  • MSSPs: A lengthy list of partners fit this category.

"Working entirely through partners, we've built a standalone cybersecurity company to disrupt and replace the legacy anti-virus market," Barsi asserts. "Legacy anti-virus is not an effective defense against today's threats. Customers are looking to rip and replace Symantec and McAfee. It's a $6.5 billion market that's up for grabs."

Carbon Black: We Won't Compete on Services

The company also learned an important lesson from a market rival. To wit, FireEye alienated some partners in 2013 by acquiring Mandiant -- a breach response consulting firm. The move essentially caused channel friction between FireEye and some partners that offer incident response services, though FireEye has been striving to improve partner relationships lately.

Instead of suffering similar channel conflict, Carbon Black designed a unique path forward with incident response (IR) companies. The company actually gives IR companies free access to its cybersecurity software (partners should check in with Carbon Black for the specific terms). Through the goodwill gesture, IR firms are motivated to promote the Carbon Black offerings to their end-customers.

So what's next? Keep an eye on at least two upcoming conferences: Black Hat USA 2018 and Carbon Black Connect 2018. We'll track the company's partner-centric moves at both gatherings.

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.