Interview

Riding a Real Growth Curve

Acronis
Rustom Hiramaneck, General Manager - South Asia at Acronis

Acronis provides an integrated all-in-one data protection and cybersecurity solution – Acronis Cyber Protect unites backup and next-generation, AI-based anti-malware, antivirus, and endpoint protection management in one solution.

“In 2021, Acronis’ cloud business in Asia grew by 72% in the number of workloads protected, and by 49% in the number of businesses protected.”

Rustom Hiramaneck, General Manager – South Asia at Acronis

As October is being celebrated as International Cybersecurity Awareness Month, there’s improved collaboration between government and private industry to raise awareness about digital security and empower everyone to protect their personal data from digital forms of crime.

The month of October is dedicated to creating resources and communications for organizations to talk to their employees and customers about staying safe online. The Cybersecurity Awareness Month reminds us all that there are viable ways to keep our data secure and protected. Sticking to certain security best practices can make a huge difference to our data security.

As part of our effort to raise awareness and explore current state of the threat landscape, we had spoken to the leading cloud, cybersecurity and digital transformation solutions provider Acronis.

In a special interaction with SME Channels, Rustom Hiramaneck, General Manager – South Asia at Acronis, reveals his organization’s approach to cybersecurity; the significance Acronis attaches to this Cyber Security Awareness Month, changing security scape; opportunities and challenges,  his company’s channel strategy, his forecasts for the industry and much more. Edited excerpts…

As a frontline cybersecurity player, how has your company been leveraging this uptick in demand?

Acronis has enjoyed tremendous business growth this and last year. In 2021, Acronis’ cloud business in Asia grew by 72% in the number of workloads protected, and by 49% in the number of businesses protected. The Acronis channel network consists of more than 50,000 partners, including over 20,000 service providers, and is expanding rapidly. The Asia-Pacific region (APAC), and India in particular, are seen as a significant growth zone with a booming digital economy. This is driving a powerful demand for effective cyber protection.

Choosing the correct solution from a crowd of solutions is like searching for a needle in a haystack. So, what sort of product differentiation do you bring to the table?

According to the 2022 Acronis Cyber Protection Week Global Report which surveyed over 6,200 IT managers and end-users, 78 percent of global organizations now juggle as many as 10 different solutions for data protection and security, yet 76 percent of them experience downtime and data loss — a 25 percent increase from last year. Managing security across a patchwork of tools is tiring and becoming less effective. Acronis provides an integrated all-in-one data protection and cybersecurity solution – Acronis Cyber Protect unites backup and next-generation, AI-based anti-malware, antivirus, and endpoint protection management in one solution. The integration and automation provide unmatched ease for service providers — reducing complexity while increasing productivity and decreasing operating costs without sacrificing security.

What key cybersecurity mega trends do you foresee in the security market?

Further consolidation. Security vendors adding more and more functionality under one product roof aiming to be end-to-end security providers. This includes not only new security verticals – for example, network security in addition to endpoint security, or cloud security but also such areas/markets like data protection, user behavior analytics, IoT-related security, and so on.

More and more vendors will develop and push whole security platforms that form security ecosystems of partners and customers like Acronis has already done. The platform will allow the addition of necessary security fictionality in place, make specific tasks easier to perform due to automation, and quickly react to new emerging threats by minimizing feature delivery or functionality integration time from vendors to partners and customers.

This goes together with the shift to the cloud. There will be more and more cloud-based security. On-premise security products will not die but they losing market share rapidly and will only make sense in some specific enterprises and governmental/military space later.

Cybersecurity more and more will rely on Machine Learning, Artificial intelligence, and big data analytics. AI is already used in security but in rather narrow tasks and this will be expanding.
IoT security will become a must as more and more smart cities will emerge that heavily depend on IoT devices. The key thing here is not malware-like threats but more data alteration and compromisation risk. So data authenticity proof is another big thing that will be required from security products in the future.

How is your channel strategy aligning with the current market trends?

Our channel strategy is focused on growing the business of our partners and in particular on growing their cloud services portfolio. Acronis delivers a flexible Acronis Cyber Protect Cloud platform with a stack of plug-n-play integrated cyber security and data protection services on it, which enables partners to provide comprehensive protection to their customers and effectively cross-sell, adding value and increasing the yield and profitability of their offerings. We offer our partners best of breed Partner Program rewarding them for focus and compliance and at the same time investing financial, technical, and human resources into partners’ growth. We aim to become an external business development unit for our partners, sourcing them with tools, content, and channel analytics as well as our experience and internal knowledge that we collect working with thousands of partners worldwide.

How do you upskill your partner ecosystem to provide a more ebullient security service?

We tailor our approach to reach partners in all areas of their relationship with Acronis, from new prospects to seasoned veterans. Partners take training when it is convenient for them on-demand, 24/7/365, via our online partner portal, at in-person events such as Cyber Summit being held in Miami, FL November 7-9, 2022, or live via an online webinar led by our world-class delivery team in their local time zone and language. We provide training and onboarding for their technical teams, sales professionals, and business decision-makers. We also provide individual coaching sessions for partners seeking to gain competitive advantages or onboard faster

When it comes to selling a product, customer experience weighs over the rest. So, what sort of pre-sales and post-sales services do you offer?

Following the channel strategy the focus is to find, recruit and enable partners that will provide a quality direct service to their customer base. At the pre-sales stage, the partner is taken care of by a sales representative and a solutions engineer. We work with the partner to understand their current business model, customer challenges, and pain points. Then match the appropriate Acronis Cyber Protect Cloud modules to address them. This also allows us to share existing best practices, market trends, and examples of practices from customers in the same industries. Support during the Proof of Concept is an essential part of the process. Our goal is to make sure the customer sees the real value of the provided technology and that the partner can quickly implement and support the solution without getting impeded by process formalities.

When it comes to post-sales partners are meticulously guided through enablement, onboarding sessions, and available resources. This allows familiarizing the partner with Acronis processes so they can be self-sufficient. Engineers will provide additional guidance and regularly inform on new features in Acronis products. Challenging projects will be given special attention as to help and enable the partner, to request advanced technical resources/services or gather feedback for future product improvements. Product issues are typically handled by a 24/7 global support team, but in more complex cases other engineering teams may be involved.

Acronis also has a range of self-help resources for website visitors: Product Documentation, a Knowledge Base to find known solutions and best practices, Support Quick Tips videos describing the most commonly used scenarios, and Acronis Forums community to share feedback and ask for advice from experienced users. We are going global-local offering a multi-language Support Team with a geo-distributed presence across 24 countries and available 24/7 via pre-sales and post-sales online assistance, support portal, and phone hotline. Acronis Support also offers additional onboarding service for new users to get personalized help installing Acronis Cyber Protect and Home Office, guiding them through the product options and configuring a backup plan to best meet their needs via phone call and a remote desktop session with a priority support engineer.”

Are you planning any major investment towards channel expansion or in terms of expanding your headcount in India?

Acronis continuously increases investment into channel partners and 2023 will be no exception – these include both internal resource investments like account management, marketing, and engineering headcount, and external ones, such as Partner Program rebates, Marketing Development Funds and other Program benefits for focused Acronis partners. We will also push within partner ecosystems in Category B and C cities to further expand our reach in India.

What would be your growth outlook for the current year?

A rapidly growing amount of businesses see the advantage of using all the benefits of the cloud. Accordingly, Acronis Cyber Protection is crucial to improve cyber security to combat more advanced threats. Acronis is constantly improving assistance channels such as Knowledge Base, Community and different communication channels by introducing AI to bring cyber protection awareness to the proper levels.  Acronis is focused on integrating virtual assistance from the Support portal with the Acronis Cloud platform, resulting in a seamless experience where Acronis partners and customers can get quick assistance with Cyber protection challenges relevant to the environment they have. Our endeavor in the current year will be to further accelerate our aggressive growth rates through increased Geo reach and exploiting our path-breaking integrated Cyber protection solutions to customers in India and South Asia.

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