**Editor’s Note: “7 Minutes” is a feature where we ask channel executives from startups – or companies new to the Channel Partners audience – a series of quick questions about their businesses and channel programs.**
Rob Chomko has a notable security background; he worked with Fidelis Cybersecurity, Forcepoint, LogLogic and Secure Computing before joining Bucharest-based Bitdefender as VP of sales for North America. While Chomko discussed the company’s GravityZone software, which was one of just 30 percent of AV systems to spot WannaCry, that’s not all the company has been up to. In May, Bitdefender released its Hypervisor Introspection solution, which uses XenServer to spot memory use by malware that would otherwise fly under the security radar. It also announced a free tool to scan home networks and report on connected devices that pose a risk due to, for example, weak usernames and passwords or firmware vulnerabilities. The Home Scanner tool then provides advice on how to address problems.
Channel Partners: Tell us what customers love about your product or service. What’s the secret selling sauce?
Rob Chomko: GravityZone is a next-generation endpoint protection solution that prevents against the most advanced malware. For example, the recent WannaCry ransomware outbreak was stopped by GravityZone using machine-learning algorithms developed over four years ago. Our customers love that GravityZone can be deployed in an on-premises or Bitdefender Cloud environment with a single agent regardless of operating system or hypervisor. In data centers, GravityZone uses a featherweight agent that offloads individual physical or virtual server scanning to a central scanning appliance. The solution also uses advanced caching techniques that save CPU, memory and disk. The GUI is intuitive and easy to use.
CP: Describe your channel program — metal levels, heavy on certifications, open or selective, unique features?
RC: Bitdefender has three levels to our channel program; Bronze, Silver and Gold with increasing margins and certification requirements. We also offer a strong deal-registration program that protects channel investments in opportunities they have developed. Bitdefender also routinely offers quarterly SPIFFs to resellers.
CP: Quick-hit answers: Percentage of sales through the channel, number of partners, average margin. Go.
RC: Bitdefender sells entirely through the channel and has thousands of global partners. Depending on competitive pressure and selling price, our partners usually earn between 10 percent and 25 percent margins. We have a strong renewal program with our partner community.
CP: Who are your main competitors, and what makes your offering better?
RC: We compete with many of the traditional AV companies like Symantec, McAfee, Sophos, Trend Micro and some new endpoint companies. Bitdefender has over 500 million endpoints deployed in 100 countries around the globe. As a result, we have the largest threat intelligence database in the industry. We use this to curate our signatures, create new machine-learning algorithms, and enhance our post-execution Advanced Threat Control process monitoring software.
Bottom line, we have a stronger anti-malware solution that is backed by independent tests like AV Test and AV Comparatives. We encourage proof of concept in customer environments that prove the strength of the solution. Our software can be downloaded in the business section on our website.
CP: How do you think your technology portfolio will change in the next three years?
RC: Bitdefender has a rich roadmap that includes quarterly releases focused on delivering far more next-generation endpoint capabilities.
CP: How do you expect your channel strategy to evolve over that timeframe?
RC: We want to make it easier to do business with Bitdefender, with the opportunity to make larger margins, and make more marketing development funds available. Bitdefender reevaluates its partner program annually, taking input from our partner community.
CP: What didn’t we ask that partners should know?
RC: Bitdefender solutions scale from a SMB customer to the Fortune 100. Our technology is easy to use, our enterprise business is growing at 100 percent annually, and we are a 100 percent channel-based company.