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Going for growth

UK acquisitions likely as Infinigate, the pan-European cybersecurity VAD, aims to double turnover in the next three years. Technology Reseller finds out more from
Chief Business Development Officer Julien Antoine 

Things are moving fast at Infinigate Group, a European Value-Added Distributor (VAD) of cybersecurity solutions, as it aims to double turnover to €1.5 billion over the next three years through a combination of acquisitions and organic growth. 

At the start of this year, the Swiss- headquartered group signalled its ambitions in the M&A space with the acquisition of French cybersecurity, storage and infrastructure distributor D2B Informatique. Before that, at the end of October 2021, it set the stage for continued organic growth with the appointment of Julien Antoine as Chief Business Development Officer, tasked with developing and growing Infinigate’s cloud and subscription business. 

When Technology Reseller caught up with Antoine in mid-November, just weeks into his new role, he highlighted three areas in which the cybersecurity specialist was looking to generate growth in the 11 Western European countries in which it currently operates, including the UK. 

“We have three main opportunities. The first one is to continue our growth trajectory, because we are growing by 20% to 30%
a year and we need to make sure that we continue to grow the gross and do so in a profitable way. The second opportunity is subscriptions and the third is M&A.” 

According to Antoine, Infinigate is looking at acquisitions to strengthen its geographical coverage and to develop additional capabilities. 

“We need to reinforce our presence in a couple of regions. I can’t comment on them publicly yet, but we are very strong in some regions and need to reinforce in others. We also need to look at different businesses because, while the typical distribution model has worked very well for the past 10-15 years and still works very well today, we need to be ready for the next 10 years.” 

A young industry 

Before joining the distribution industry, first at Exclusive Networks and now at Infinigate, Antoine worked as a management consultant for A.T. Kearney, gaining first-hand experience of different industries that he believes have a much greater level of maturity than the one he now works in. 

“The cyber security industry is still quite young. If you compare it to software vendors, to Microsoft, we are 10 to 15 years behind. If you compare it to the retail sector or to the automotive industry, we may be even further behind in terms of how they are run, in terms of processes,
in terms of the maturity of the industry. Cybersecurity vendors started subscription two, three, four years ago. Microsoft and Adobe did it 10 years ago. And you find the same thing in many other areas. I believe that looking at other industries and learning from them and implementing lessons in our space can provide significant value.” 

Antoine adds that it is not just the cybersecurity industry that needs to catch up but also distributors and resellers, referencing low levels of digitisation in the channel. 

“Many of our competitors have been looking at digitalisation from their own perspective, to try to streamline processes, to improve the bottom line, to reduce costs and so forth. This is great, but I believe it is also self-centred. Our approach is to look at how we can leverage other industries
to really empower our channel and really help our core system to gain in maturity, to move forward and to scale, by acting as a middleman and helping to link up the whole ecosystem.” 

To illustrate what this approach might mean in practice, Antoine cites the example of a distributor that provides a marketplace, which essentially involves digitising its own processes and giving resellers a place where they can buy products, compared with one that enables channel partners to digitise their processes by giving them a white label platform that they can use to put together and sell their own solutions and subscriptions. 

This matters for resellers, he suggests, because many of them have already become or are in the process of becoming managed service providers, which requires a much greater level of sophistication  and empowerment.

“The market is a continuum; we don’t have MSPs on one side and resellers or value-added resellers on the other; it is a continuum. The question is are partners early adopters or not. Those that are have been moving rapidly into the MSP space, while others are still in the transition process. This presents challenges because when you move to MSP you don’t sell hardware and software anymore, you sell subscriptions and with that comes an interesting layer of complexity, in terms of the frequency of the invoicing and the metrics you use. Since it’s software, you can be invoicing per user, per database, per bandwidth. As middlemen, we are trying our best to simplify this complexity and enabling the channel to make the transformation to MSP.” 

M&A 

In 2018 Infinigate sharpened its focus on MSP enablement with the acquisition of Acmeo, a German cloud and subscription specialist, which it has now fully integrated into its operations in Germany. MSP is now one of the fastest growing parts of Infinigate’s business in its largest market, highlighting the potential of M&A to accelerate business transformation.

M&A activity is likely to play a big part in strengthening Infinigate operations in the UK as well, which Antoine describes as a priority. 

“The UK is a market where we don’t have the scale that we would expect to have. So that’s where we are going to invest in the coming months and the coming years,” he said. 

Infinigate entered the UK 10 years ago with the acquisition of a majority stake in value-add distributor Vigil Software and currently has a team of 25 to 30 people focusing on the SMB reseller and MSP community. Its vendor partners include A10 Networks, Barracuda, CyberArk, Entrust, Exinda, GFI, HID Global, Hornetsecurity, iboss, Ivanti, Netwrix, Nuix, Progress, Safend, Securenvoy, SonicWall, Tripwire, Trustwave and Yubico.

Infinigate

It is too early in his tenure for Antoine to disclose detailed plans for the UK, but he did hint at some interesting developments, saying: “In our ecosystem, the UK is a more mature market compared to the others, because vendors come from the US and land in the UK first. So that is where we are going to try to do something a bit different.” 

Vendor strategy 

He added that Infinigate has a selective vendor strategy and is more interested in developing partnerships to address changing requirements than simply signing up new names. 

“What we are focusing on is building partnerships, because the industry is evolving and there are areas where we have real expertise, for example in how to grow subscriptions and how to grow business with SMB resellers/MSPs. Our focus is to build partnerships to help our vendor ecosystem and resellers to grow faster. Expanding the portfolio is part of that, definitely, but in a very selective way with complementary offers. 

“At the moment, we are putting the infrastructure in place to look at vendors with a strong technical eye, to assess their technologies. Many distributors focus on a business’s potential but tend to overlook their technical expertise and capabilities. We try to cover those angles as well, looking at things from a technology perspective and from a business perspective.” 

The fact that Infinigate is investing additional resources in this area gives some indication of the challenges that resellers/MSPs and their customer face in navigating the young, diverse, fast growing cybersecurity market. So, could distributors like Infinigate be doing more to educate the channel and their end user customers?

Infinigate signed

Antoine questions whether end user education is the role of a distributor, pointing out that Infinigate is helping reduce complexity and confusion for end users in other ways. 

“As a distributor, we have a very important role in educating the channel and helping resellers to better understand the technology, but we don’t address the end user. That said, this topic is important because in this industry there is a very significant shortage of talent. And when you combine increasing complexity and shortage of talent, it becomes challenging for the end user. How we are addressing this is to look at building ecosystems across technologies, which is something that vendors are also doing.” 

With a clear commitment to simplify cyber security challenges for end users and to enable partners to make the transition from reseller to MSP, and the motivation of ambitious growth targets, Infinigate is clearly a company to watch in the months to come.

https://infinigate.co.uk 

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