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Centrify Pushes Cloud Identity Management for MSPs

Centrify, an enterprise identity management vendor with deep hooks into the Microsoft stack, is using Microsoft's Office 365 momentum to gain its own traction with managed service providers (MSPs).

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company this week announced its first MSP channel program, which is a new level within the year-old Centrify Channel Partner Network (CCPN).

Centrify has its roots in connecting various non-Microsoft servers and applications in the datacenter into the Active Directory structure to help enterprises keep identity management under control. As cloud services proliferated, the company saw a natural extension in providing single sign-on and multi-factor authentication for multitudes of cloud apps in one corporate portal, be it Active Directory-based or not.

Nathan Adams, director of North American Channels for Centrify, said another Microsoft technology, this time Office 365, is again driving new opportunities for Centrify.

"Provisioning services are being driven by the Office 365 piece," said Adams, noting that the moves to Office 365 are opening doors for widespread, sanctioned use of a lot of other cloud apps.

The Centrify User Suite allows customers, mostly enterprises so far, to provision their end users to be able to log in once for access to all the cloud apps that each customer users. Common apps include Office 365, Google Apps, Concur and Salesforce, but the Centrify catalog includes hundreds more. Some existing Centrify partners had been offering the Centrify User Suite to customers previously, but it was a resale arrangement, Adams said in a telephone interview Wednesday.

The new MSP channel program is enabled by new MSP functionality in the Centrify User Suite. The most significant feature is multi-tenancy, allowing one MSP to manage and administer several customers' implementations from a single pane of glass. The technology was functional about six months ago, but Centrify has been testing it with a limited group of partners and only formally announced it this week, Adams said.

Centrify is not new to the channel, but the company has been getting steadily more serious about growing its revenues through the channel over the last year. The CCPN brought a formal structure to Centrify partners with three tiers, clear criteria for moving from one tier to the next, competencies, training and benefits.

Channel revenues have tripled for Centrify over the last year, and the company has gone from a 70/30 split of direct to indirect revenue 18 months ago to about a 45/55 split recently, Adams said: "The goal is to get that to 70/30 [indirect to direct] or even 80/20."

That Centrify channel currently has the structure of a Fortune 5000-focused vendor, with only 122 partners in North America. The sweet spot for the MSP offerings are in the midmarket -- customers with between 500 and 5,000 users -- but Centrify doesn't plan to recruit aggressively yet.

"We want to make sure that we're continuing to provide a very personal touch with our community. For MSPs, probably throughout this calendar year, it will stay the way that we've planned and that we've laid out," Adams said. In the future, as processes become more routine, the program could expand, he suggested.

At the same time, Centrify wants to stay well out of the way of its new MSP vendor partner, AVG, which unveiled an OEM version of the Centrify User Suite  as AVG CloudCare SSO, announced at the AVG Cloud Summit in October. With a large base of MSP customers, AVG can reach the broader SMB market.

"AVG is a very strong partner of ours, and they're going to be going hot and heavy into that market," Adams said.

Posted by Scott Bekker on January 14, 2015 at 1:31 PM