December 21, 2022, 11:46 AM EST
‘Abacode has brought the 24/7 human horsepower to the table to solve the cybersecurity and compliance problem for the midmarket and the enterprise,’ says Brian Kirsch, president of Adapture, No. 116 on the 2022 Fast Growth 150 list.
For Adapture, one of the fastest-growing solution providers in the country, the partnership with cybersecurity and compliance service provider Abacode has powered a whopping 200 percent increase in cybersecurity services growth this year.
“The Abacode turnkey offering of software and services is very compelling in this human-capital- constrained market,” said Brian Kirsch, president of Adapture, No. 116 on the 2022 Fast Growth 150 list. “Abacode has brought the 24/7 human horsepower to the table to solve the cybersecurity and compliance problem for the midmarket and the enterprise.”
Abacode’s combination of cybersecurity services and compliance is a “big-time differentiator,” said Kirsch. “Normally those two concepts live in independent silos. They are one in the same with Abacode as they should be. That is a unique differentiator.”
For Atlanta-based Adapture—which specializes in reducing risk and increasing the performance of companies—Abacode has opened the door to “shift from transactional to perpetual” cybersecurity relationships with key customers, said Kirsch.
“I come from a services background so I know how critically important it is in times of dynamic change to be as present as possible with clients,” Kirsch said. “If you are helping them navigate one of their biggest points of anxiety, which is cybersecurity, it can transform both your business and the client’s business.”
Abacode co-founder and CEO Michael Ferris, for his part, is betting big on partners like Adapture to drive dramatic growth for the cybersecurity services and compliance provider, which grew its annual recurring revenue by 83 percent in 2022.
“We’re all in with partners,” said Ferris. “We believe it will drive at least two-thirds if not 75 percent of our business [up from about 50 percent]. Those partners have a trusted technical relationship. The problem is the complexity in security and compliance is deep water that they can no longer address. We can solve it. But they have got the seat at the table. They have a trusted relationship with the customer. They just can’t have the conversation and do what they need to do. We can solve that for them.”
Solving it means focusing first and foremost on the the challenges facing boards of directors and all the top C-suite executives from the CEO to the CISO to the CIO and COO, said Ferris.
“We really were born out of the boardroom with a look at how do we do this differently, how do we attack these challenges, how do we solve these problems, starting from the top down and not the product or platform up,” said Ferris. “We didn’t want to create a software widget and then come up and help an organization with one particular problem. We wanted to start with the board [of directors] and the enterprise and look at how do we create an umbrella to solve all of these challenges that organizations are having.”
To do that, Abacode had to bring together cybersecurity and compliance in a way that had never been done before, said Ferris. “To unify cybersecurity and compliance we needed to speak both of those fluently because an organization can be secure and not compliant and compliant but not secure,” he said. “We brought those two together and created a new market category. We were previously an MSSP [Managed Security Service Provider]. We stepped out of the shadows and created MCCP [Managed Cybersecurity and Compliance Provider].”
The MCCP “programmatic” and “holistic” approach is resonating with customers facing cybersecurity product overload along with an ever-increasing number of cybersecurity compliance regulations.
The Abacode “secret sauce” is the huge investment of time, money, people and resources it has invested over the last eight years to “orchestrate the services and technologies required to implement a holistic cybersecurity and compliance program,” said Ferris.
“The biggest thing we can do, that most any other company cannot do, is we can advise, implement and manage an entire cybersecurity and compliance program for a fraction of the cost,” he said. “And we can get that client into a continuous state of security and compliance.”
Abacode’s MCCP core program effectively orchestrates a comprehensive cybersecurity and compliance services stack for a client, said Ferris. “Basically we do it in a crawl, walk, run fashion depending on where the client is in their maturity of their wants and needs. But effectively wherever they engage with us they are immediately effectively inside the MCCP program. Now you are immediately in an organized program where we map you to a compliance standard inside a [cybersecurity] maturity model with consolidated reporting.”
That cybersecurity maturity model has powered 50 percent sales growth in cybersecurity and compliance services sales over the last year in the mid-Atlantic North region for the commercial and SLED (state and local government and education) for Red River, the $1 billion-plus digital transformation powerhouse, said Todd Koehler, director of commercial and SLED in the Mid-Atlantic North territory for Red River.
That sales growth is the result of a unique “Better Together” partnership that has been a cybersecurity services game-changer for Red River, said Koehler. “They are truly an extension of our team,” he said.
Abacode is providing the high-quality SOC managed services that Red River customers are demanding with a wide array of cybersecurity services from management of SIEM environments to compliance services and penetration testing, said Koehler. “They have a holistic program that removes the clutter of multiple vendors by bringing a complete managed cybersecurity and compliance program to the customer,” he said. “That is a huge bonus and plus for us. Most of our customers want one throat to choke. That is difficult when you talk about security because there are so many different layers. Abacode is able to keep up with it all. They manage it for us so my team can sell our NOC [Network Operations Center] services with their SOC [Security Operations Center] services. It is just a great partnership and our growth shows that.”
The Red River–Abacode partnership goes wide and deep with co-branded marketing, events and webinars, said Koehler.
One of the most impressive aspects of the partnership is the Abacode sales enablement process with an “unprecedented” ability to quickly respond to cybersecurity sales proposals and statements of work in a fast-moving cybersecurity market, said Koehler.
“We’re a much larger organization with a lot more salespeople in the regions and they’ve been able to keep up with us,” he said. “They have done an amazing job of keeping up with our business. We truly appreciate it. And their quality of delivery is excellent. That helps with the stickiness within customers.”
Customers that initially sign one-year deals with the two companies are coming back and signing three- or five-year agreements for the combined NOC and SOC services from the two companies, said Koehler. “That goes back to Abacode’s quality of the delivery of their services and their ability to on-board customers quickly,” he said. “The partnership is working. The numbers prove it. The growth is phenomenal.”
The sales reps from the two companies have established strong bonds, said Koehler. “They really trust each other,” he said. “They feel like they can win every single deal. Having that confidence breeds confidence and it builds and grows the other sides of our business.”
Koehler, a 25-year technology sales and channel veteran, said the “Better Together” partnership with Abacode amounts to the “most growth potential” he has seen in his career. “I’ve never seen anything like this,” he said.
Abacode is planning to accelerate its partnering effort fueled in part by an additional $8 million round of funding (bringing its total funding to $13 million) in September from investors Ballast Point Ventures and Signature Bank of North Carolina. “One-third of that investment is going into building out the partner program,” said Ferris. “So we are effectively moving from the Southeast. Now we are taking millions of dollars to move the partner program up the Northeast and to the Midwest and starting to move out West.”
With Abacode as a cybersecurity and compliance service provider, MSPs and midmarket-focused solution providers are able to immediately provide their customers with a “single pipe to provide a holistic, programmatic cybersecurity and compliance program,” said Ferris. He said it is critical for partners to move quickly to address the cybersecurity and compliance issues facing their customers or risk losing the trusted IT provider relationship with their customers.
“What is at stake is you are going to be left out of the conversation and someone else is going to take that business from you,” said Ferris. “Once they get a foothold in your client, you are on a fast track to no longer having that client. If you cannot have an immediate conversation at the right level around cybersecurity and compliance, someone else is in that door and is going to take the entire business from you over time. That is what is at risk.”
Ferris couldn’t be more excited about the potential to grow Abacode by teaming with partners. “We’re pumped,” he said. “We’re sitting at the top of the food chain from a methodology perspective and the world is coming to us. There is tons of rooms for growth. The biggest key for partners is they can accelerate value and results to their end users at five to 10 times the speed they are doing it now. And they are going to do it more rapidly, which makes their income potential exponential.”