Exclusive Networks has been helping Thales achieve year-on-year growth in sales of its identity and access management and data protection solutions since 2009. As the distributor rolls out a new brand awareness and partner recruitment drive, Thales solutions have arguably never been more relevant than they are today.
Thales Group is a French multi-national, with 80,000 employees in 68 countries and annual sales of 17 billion euros across five main areas – space, aerospace, ground transportation, defence and digital identity & security.
The Group gained its expertise and leadership in the fifth – and most recent – of these areas in February 2019 through the €4.8 billion acquisition of Gemalto, a name that will be familiar to many in the IT world for its payment security and authentication products and to the wider public for its 11.5-year contract to produce the new UK passport.
Four years earlier, Gemalto itself had acquired another digital security company, a leader in data and software protection called SafeNet, which, since 2009, had had a distribution agreement with Exclusive Networks. This relationship was maintained and extended under the stewardship of Gemalto and then Thales Group, which, from four distribution partners in the UK, ultimately selected Exclusive Networks as its primary distributor.
“Looking back all those years ago, it was a big move for Thales to consolidate that many distribution partners, but we very quickly proved to them that they had made the right decision. Through an increased focus, dedicated support from our teams and the successful execution of a channel expansion plan, we expanded their modest partner base quickly and started delivering significant channel-led incremental business,” says Exclusive Networks vendor manager Simon Bickers.
Today, Thales trades with over 200 partners through Exclusive Networks, compared to just a handful when its relationship with Exclusive started, and is now looking to further boost its name recognition in the UK and recruit net new partners to satisfy growing demand for its products.
Exclusive Networks looks after two of the three product lines overseen by Thales’ Digital Identity and Security division – data protection and identity and access management (IAM).
Data protection. Thales Data Protection solutions provide enterprises with all the tools they need to discover, protect, control and monitor access to all their critical data and encryption keys wherever they reside. Thales’ data protection solutions include advanced data discovery and classification, encryption of data in motion or at rest, key management, network encryption, hardware security modules and cloud-based data protection on demand services.
Identity and access management (IAM). Thales IAM solutions give SMEs and enterprises the tools they need to control, monitor and manage access to corporate networks, as well as cloud and web-based applications.
Commenting on both line-ups, Bickers says: “Essentially, what we are offering partners is a solution that will help their customers mitigate the risk of experiencing potentially damaging data breaches. At a high-level, it does this by identifying and classifying sensitive data, protecting that data through encryption, securing and managing the encryption keys and monitoring user access to data, systems and applications.
“We also help end customers reduce the cost of non-compliance. Through the solutions that Thales offers we make it easier for end users to address an evolving list of compliance requirements to ensure they don’t get hit with heavy fines, but also to reduce the complexity and costs around data security and continuous compliance. And, through both IAM and data protection, we help end users achieve cost-effective business transformation, such as migration to the cloud.”
Bickers points out that Thales solutions have a number of strengths compared to those offered by competitors.
On the IAM side, these include a rapid time to value due to the straightforward deployment and ease of use of the solution; support for a broad range of authentication methods (such as hardware tokens, soft tokens, pattern-based authentication, biometrics etc.); a much lower TCO, as free authentication tokens are included in the price of the user licence; integrations with customers’ existing authentication schemes; and a transparent, user-based licensing scheme that is easy for partners and customers to understand.
On the data protection side, Thales can address the broadest range of data security uses cases whether in the cloud, on-premise or both. This is through a portfolio of products and a centralised platform that helps customers discover and classify data, protects that data through encryption of data at rest or in motion, efficiently controls and secures the encryption keys within hardware security modules, and monitors access to that data and the keys.
Bickers says that demand across both product lines increased by about 30% in 2020 and he expects growth to remain strong in 2021, presenting channel partners with a large addressable market and plenty of sales opportunities.
“We saw a spike in demand for Thales’ IAM solutions during CoVID because of the demand for secure remote working. Thales were winning because their solution was quick to deploy and easier to use; the licensing scheme was transparent, with no hidden surprises, so sign off processes were accelerated; and, due to what is included with the user licences, they have a lower TCO compared to many competitor solutions.
“Then, on the data protection side, we continued to see growth due to the portfolio being able to positively address a broad range of uses cases and needs, such as more resilient, cost-effective and less complex cloud and data security; enterprise and multi-cloud key management; discovery and classification of diverse data types across the whole IT infrastructure; and evolving compliance mandates, to name a few.”
As Thales’ go-to UK distributor, Exclusive Networks provides valuable support to help channel partners profit from such opportunities, including a dedicated vendor team of Thales product sales specialists, dedicated marketing resources, presales and professional service consultants and a team of 28 support engineers in their UK support centre.
“On the IAM side, Exclusive Networks have a mature set of pre- and post-sales support services,” explains Bickers. “We provide first line telephone support for end customers. We resolve and own the majority of the IAM support cases that are raised on to us, which means our partners’ customers are serviced quickly and effectively if they ever need support. We are able to deliver professional services; we are able to deliver training. Overall, we make it easy for net new Thales customers and partners to on-board, sell and use the solution. We also actively encourage and make it commercially viable for new partners to be trained so that they can deliver their own Thales partner services to increase margins and their stickiness with us, Thales and end user customers.”
There is also a dedicated partner onboarding programme to get partners up and running in identity and access management. Called Going for Gold, it is designed to encourage new and existing partners to work closely with Exclusive Networks to successfully launch their Thales IAM business.
“We provide them with enablement, whether that’s technical, sales or marketing. They give us a commitment that they will invest time and some effort into a business plan, which we shape and execute together. We have all the resource and skills to assist them every step of the way and they are rewarded with Gold partner margins and a host of other benefits to kickstart their business. It’s tried and tested and it works. We have partners who have come onto the program with no experience in selling IAM solutions and by following the plan and doing some lead generation with us they have won business in a short period of time, made good margin and gained new customer relationships that they have then built on. We make it very easy for partners to launch their Thales business,” explains Bickers.
Bickers says that one of Exclusive Networks’ plans this year is to introduce a data protection evangelisation programme and to bring more partners into the Thales partner programme.
“We will be looking to go into existing Thales partners and new ones and almost demystify the data protection portfolio, where we need to. Due to Thales’ acquisitions over the years, there are a lot of legacy products, migration paths and different naming conventions, and there will inevitably be some products that partners don’t know Thales have available to them.
“There is a lot to talk to partners about and introduce partners to. For example, many won’t know about Thales’ Data Discovery and Classification solution, the cloud-based Data Protection on Demand services or how the CipherTrust Data Security platform can simplify their customers’ data security operations.
“It is our job to go into the channel and make some noise about what Thales have in their portfolio today, why they are being so successful with it, why end users will want to hear about it and how that will help our partners stand out from the competition and win more business.”
To find out more about the Thales IAM and data protection solutions and how Exclusive Networks can help you exploit opportunities in these growing areas, please email email@example.com or call 0845 521 7217