Channel chat: Ross Baker, Trend Micro
“We’re not just another start-up apologetically sending someone to Ireland.” Ross Baker, UK and Ireland sales and channel director at Trend Micro, doesn’t mince his words. “We have 250 employees in Ireland at our European operation centre in Cork, with 20 different countries represented.”
Trend Micro definitely is not a start-up. The company, which began life in Los Angeles in 1988 as an antivirus software developer, was co-founded by Steve Chang, his wife Jenny and her sister Eva Chen. Shortly after its creation, Trend Micro relocated to Taipei. It moved headquarters to Japan in 1992 after taking over a Japanese software firm. In 2004, Cheng took the role of chairman and Chen took over as CEO.
In the intervening years, it has grown to become an organisation with 6,000 employees globally and revenues of more than $1 billion. Trend Micro’s products protect more than 500,000 businesses, block 250 million threats daily and identify 500,000 new threats every day.
The company is entirely channel focused. In the majority of countries it operates a two-tier strategy but it does not have distribution in Ireland as such although Arrow has some Irish representation here.
Baker says the vendor is keen to do more with the partners that have traded with Trend Micro in the past year. “Some of them are transacting a small amount with us, they know only a part of the Trend Micro story. They might not know we’re a leader in cloud security, for example. Trend Micro has recently hired Arthur Lynch, formerly of Asystec and Dell/EMC, as regional account manager for Ireland. Arthur’s remit is to wear the channel hat, collaborating with partners and combining their efforts to help customers.”
Baker argues channel partners are important for the hyper growth that Trend is predicting. “You’re not going to achieve that without a clear channel strategy and programme.” Unlike start-up companies that “might come along and say ‘please create a market, here’s some MDF and we’ll see you in a year’,” he stresses that Trend Micro has “a collaborative model. The partners who are most likely to be successful understand what we do.”
Baker emphasises the vendor’s longevity in the market. “Customers are looking for a vendor that has a clear strategy to what the solutions are and how the partner can build a business case around that. It shouldn’t be any more complicated than that, in my opinion.”
But he admits that Trend Micro, like any vendor with a brand that’s well known, faces a challenge in getting attention because people may presume they know what we do. “I’m saying you should reconsider Trend Micro because I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.”
Building on its tagline of “From the endpoint to the network to the cloud, we’ve got you covered,” the company has introduced its XGen concept, which it describes as “a new class of security software that addresses the full range of ever-changing threats—now and in the future”. Instead of using separate, siloed security solutions that don’t share information, XGen security provides “a cross-generational blend of threat defence techniques and a connected threat defence” that can protect organisations from unseen threats.
Essentially, Trend Micro is providing a single vendor solution to customers that spans the entire infrastructure. “It’s designed not only for the endpoint but also for the server, the virtual environment and the ever-evolving landscape,” Baker says. Where previously customers would have adopted a best of breed approach, there has been a change of heart after they found the perimeter system might not be able to talk to the gateway which, in turn, wouldn’t be able to talk to the desktop.
As a result, there has been a move to consolidate and protect using a single vendor with a multilayered approach: “It’s a one solution strategy rather than a multivendor approach. It gives them one backside to kick,” he exclaims.
On the other side, many channel partners are also consolidating their vendors. “Vendor consolidation is a big strategy for a lot of our channel today. We’re a well-kept secret in our part of the market,” Baker admits.
People are buying technology in different ways today, so it is useful to be able to offer security as a service. Baker describes Trend Micro’s go-to-market strategy as being “designed for the agile way that people buy now.” The most successful partners, he believes, are those “that can wear a technical hat” but wrap services around what they do. Their work “needs to be planned and considered to avoid the unintended consequences of a bad implementation. In addition to the licence, it should be able to yield decent service revenue for them.”
He says the end goal is to make things “comprehensive and simple” for partners. “Comprehensive doesn’t have to mean complicated or difficult to comprehend.” It should enable partners to take the licensing revenue and install the product with professional service revenue.
He stresses that Trend Micro does not rely on “a fancy partner programme”. Customers are looking for security that works and a business model with a vendor that’s reliable, with somebody that’s going to be around in a few years. A lot of startups are jumping on the security bandwagon, but how long will they be around? Our portfolio is as relevant as any startup and we’re profitable.”
For those partners that are doing business with Trend Micro, there is no doubt that security is a good area to focus on. “Any analyst report you read will tell you that security will grow faster than any other part of IT,” Baker says. The channel companies that do best will be those that are security partners or that have a security remit in their business model. “Customers want to make sure they’re talking to a partner that can talk the talk and walk the walk. Security isn’t something you do apologetically at the end of the project, it has to be built in.”
Newer arrivals to the market may make a big noise about their technology but Baker questions if there is much substance behind the bluster. “There is a lot of FUD, there is a lot of noise, it’s a crowded marketplace for the customer and that can be confusing. Talk is cheap; we recommend any partner have a look at our technology. Why don’t you go and try our solutions for yourself – our products are available to download and test immediately at www.trendmicro.com.”