Interview

For the Channel Partners, Cloud is Coming Very Quickly

Cloud computing is the new chapter in technology and Channel partners are gearing up for the massive challenge. SME Channels spoke to Murali Urs, Country Manager- India, Barracuda Networks, asking him to shed some light on the said topic.

What are the resources that your company is deploying for this versatile market? How is the market responding?

From the IT standpoint, the biggest thing that is happening in India is in the cloud. So much is happening on cloud, there are many system integrators, service providers, and ISVs are latching on to the cloud using it as a good launch pad. There are numerous start ups that are latching onto the cloud too.  And for Barracuda it gives a lot of opportunities for us. And it gives Barracuda’s partners a lot of opportunities to go and open new doors in existing customers plus knock on new customers’ solution which Barracuda has to offer. The thing that is good for them is the platforms don’t give too much of an option for the system integrators, or their partners to sell anything extra more than the part. But in Barracuda you can upscale your existing platform solutions you are giving and also provide solutions for Barracuda’s products as well and in turn help in the consumption of the cloud. Because cloud vendors like third party players are paying more because the consumption of cloud itself increases which in turn helps their revenue. So it’s a win for everybody. But with barracuda, I think partners will find a lot of options because we cater to O365, Azure, AWS, and Google Cloud.

The names you have given are all public cloud players. Isn’t it a popular assumption that hybrid platforms are mainly provided by private players?

So with vendors like Barracuda, customers can choose to either use one or both. Because our solution pans across physical infrastructure, virtual infrastructure, and cloud. And some of the offerings that we have, we even have them in SAAS model. So customers can choose whichever model you like to deploy our solutions and the partners are free to work with us and cater to customers in whatever form they want.

Is channel your route to market?

We sell only through channels. We visualize with customers, we work with customers to understand the problems, and arrive at the right solution. But eventually the transaction is always done through channels. We don’t sell directly.

What is the channel ecosystem that you have?

As of now the channel is on a re-vamp, but we are running premier, preferred, registered partners based on different criteria’s. Any new entrant is normally a registered partner. But they can work their way up in terms of certification, revenue and become the premier partner. Premier partner has basically got its own requirements of how many people are technically certified, sales certified, and many more, but we prefer working with premier partners because they can service the customer better.

What is the traction on SDA WAN?

It’s very high, primarily because of the advent of cloud. The main challenges cloud customers have is – the first is security because now data moves out of the database centre. The second challenge is that customers automatically have a management of links itself. Because once you move them, move the applications into cloud you want to give accessibility to everybody wherever they are. That automatically opens a new door for adversaries to get into the network and that’s why security becomes primary and availability becomes secondary bandwidth itself. If I am sitting in a place like Agartala, or Vadodara, and I have been asked to connect to Azure, I probably don’t have an MPLS link there. I still have to work that means I will have to get an internet link or a dial up connection and I should still be able to manage all of them. So with SDA WAN the beauty is no matter what router you’re using for connectivity, you can manage all of them from one place.

As security is becoming very dominant in the market what is the challenge for CIOs now?

From a security stand point, CIOs challenge won’t be from one angle. He is responsible from the end point to the data center now with cloud its outside data center as well. So the challenges will vary from vertical to vertical, plus it will also vary in terms of whether you need to look at cloud infrastructure because platform providers also bring in security. The biggest challenge you will have is the people, how do we get people to stick to the security requirements of an organization. Now with the advent of emails going outside the infrastructure which O365, the security aspect of emails becoming a gateway to internal organization has gone up to almost 90%. Previously it used to be around 70% now 90% of threats are coming through emails. So CIO will have to look at multiple angles.

If you look at the matrix, ransomware has been the cause of 60-70% of the attacks that have happened in 2018. Are you expecting the same statistics in 2019-2020?

See the predictions of ransomware will continue to be there. The biggest challenge that is happening as of now, is on email, because information is now dispersed. The email is now outside your firewall. People are accessing emails from handphones, laptops, sitting from wherever they are. Email will continue to be the biggest challenge for the customers. We all thought WannaCry was dead but the attack happened again in 2018, and you have spear phishing becoming a big challenge. The USA alone paid close to $3 billion to sort out its spear phishing problem. In India also, this is a big challenge. Customers are talking to us about it. They are engaging with us to get a solution.

The COO of Semantic mentioned, “Anti Virus is becoming irrelevant”. What are your thoughts on this?

There is a lot of requirement of tech that Barracuda can offer. With many of the Anti Virus companies what they do is they sell and they walk away, they do a 3 year contract, and then nothing from the customer again. Whereas, with Barracuda you can go back to the customer. Customers are seeing the value from what we can offer because we don’t talk about email security. We talk about email protection which is beyond security. You would obviously want to ensure that your emails are in compliance. And there is definitely a dearth in the market for good anti-spear phishing and with our AI based technology where we even understand the behavior of people, how they will write emails, we can offer a lot of value to our customers.

How is Barracuda looking from a vertical stand point?

If you look at it from a Barracuda stand point, we have different technologies so it is not easy to straight away say which vertical is going to give us business. Look at WAF and Archiving, BSFA is the biggest market we have. They are the ones investing big time into us. Everyone needs SD VAN technology today because cloud is not stuck to one vertical. It opens a market for us to talk about it in every vertical. And as I mentioned its about email security. And we are infrastructure provider, if you look at everything we offer, it is needed by every customer.

Your offering is there on SAAS model. Is it growing faster?

It is growing very quick. Even archiving for example, they want cloud archiving. They want to do email security on cloud. We had announced our WAF as a service a little more than a quarter back; we are receiving a lot of acceptance from customers for WAF.

Is Barracuda doing anything different for its channel partners?

We are looking at what are the additional benefits we can give to partners, to people from different slabs, how do we look at partners who only do one transaction with us and go away for the next 12 months and don’t come back to us, so we are definitely re-looking into it. We have a lot of partners registered, we want to get them on to the fold and see how much more we can work together, because each partner brings its own market, so we want to see how we can get into their markets.

What advice would you give to channel partners and CIOs from your experience?

For the channel partners, cloud is coming very quickly. As it is written on the rear view mirror, “objects in the mirror are closer than they appear”, so this is catching up too fast.

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