Like Palo Alto Networks®, Nexum® focuses on three things: security, security, security. Over more than a decade, the Chicago-based cybersecurity company has expanded both its customer base — many in the Fortune 2500 — and its range of offerings, mirroring the growing portfolio and widespread acceptance of Palo Alto Networks as a marketplace leader. Nexum has five core business pillars: reseller, professional services, support, training and monitored and managed services, each tying into Palo Alto Networks.
The key to Nexum’s success is its ability to solve business problems, as opposed to providing technology alone. Nexum encourages its customers to shift their thinking from day-to-day concerns to the big picture, mitigating security risks that could lead to devastating data breaches by deploying end-to-end security that fits their budget and doesn’t cripple performance. The Palo Alto Networks Next-Generation Security Platform consists of a Next-Generation Firewall, Threat Intelligence Cloud, and Advanced Endpoint Protection, the Palo Alto Networks platform delivers application, user, and content visibility and control, as well as protection against known and unknown cyberthreats. The threat intelligence cloud provides central intelligence capabilities and automates the delivery of preventative measures against cyberattacks. Traps™ Advanced Endpoint Protection embodies this emphasis, challenging the mindset that successful cyberattacks are impossible to stop. Whether through a single training class or a full-blown monitored and managed services engagement, Nexum works side by side with its customers and Palo Alto Networks to carve out a niche in the world of cybersecurity providers.
When Brian Haboush describes Nexum’s value proposition, he uses the word “holistic”. In his role as vice president of sales and marketing for the cybersecurity firm, Haboush meets with hundreds of customers and potential customers every year and comes away with a crystal-clear understanding of why people choose Nexum. “Customers come to us because they’ve outgrown point products,” he says. “We’re successful because we deliver a holistic package that solves their business needs. Nobody buys a firewall just to have more blinking lights in the data center.”
The company’s tagline — We Mean Security® — reflects Nexum’s laser-like focus on cybersecurity and shows why the close relationship with Palo Alto Networks is so important. “Palo Alto Networks is completely focused on cybersecurity, they aren’t distracted by branching out into other technology areas,” he says. “That emphasis meshes well with our corporate culture. Our companies are similar in another way: Both CEOs have military backgrounds and therefore bring a certain discipline to the way we do business.”
The two companies have formalized their cultural fit: Nexum is a Platinum Partner in the Palo Alto Networks NextWave Partner Program. In 2014, Nexum was appointed a Palo Alto Networks Authorized Support Center, which means that Nexum support engineers can provide Level 1 and Level 2 service for the entire Palo Alto Networks product line.
Come One, Come All
To its customers, Nexum wears many hats — five, to be precise — product reseller, professional services, certified support, certified training, monitored and managed security services provider. “We refer to them as the five pillars of our business,” says Haboush. “Nexum’s offerings are modular; we’ll provide something as simple as training for a single Palo Alto Networks product all the way up to an end-to-end package using Palo Alto Networks next-generation firewalls (including App-ID and User-ID based policies), Traps, and WildFire — just about everything Palo Alto Networks makes.”
Nexum works with organizations of every size, and in virtually every industry, but their sweet spot consists of Fortune 2500 companies with enterprise-level networks and a broad range of high-end security needs. “Take high-frequency trading firms,” says Haboush. “They tend to be lean on staff, but the dollar value of their data and the speed at which they operate makes them perfect candidates for our holistic approach.”
Large enterprises have complex security needs, so Nexum must offer products across the full spectrum of the network infrastructure. That’s where the partnership with Palo Alto Networks really pays off for Nexum. “Palo Alto Networks aligns 100 percent with our business because they have it all: data center products, virtualized products, edge gateways, and endpoint protection,” says Haboush.
Reaching for the Top
At the end of the day, a firewall is just a firewall — or is it? Nexum firmly disagrees, in fact, Nexum works hard to raise the level of the security conversation from tactical to strategic by emphasizing the broad capabilities of Palo Alto Networks. “We position the Palo Alto Networks next-generation firewall as the cornerstone for a platform, not a point product,” Haboush says. “That approach allows us to engage executives farther up the corporate hierarchy. The conversation shifts from technology to how Palo Alto Networks and Nexum can help them mitigate risk, get the most from their security investments, and grow top-line revenues.”
Winning a large security deal is hard, but one thing that’s not hard is convincing customers to choose Palo Alto Networks. “Customers like the fact that Palo Alto Networks created the next-generation firewall category,” Haboush says. “At the same time, we make sure they understand that Palo Alto Networks is much more than firewalls. URL filtering, advanced threat prevention, malware protection — Palo Alto Networks has a complete footprint for the security infrastructure.”
Why Monitored and Managed Services? It’s Complicated
“We chose Palo Alto Networks for the Nexum first*defense® monitored and managed security services because the Palo Alto Networks technology is cutting edge and highly relevant to a variety of needs,” Haboush says. “In addition, our customers know and trust Palo Alto Networks — many already have Palo Alto Networks next-generation firewalls in their infrastructures.”
Nexum’s monitored and managed services business has grown exponentially in the last 18 months thanks to a perfect storm of market conditions. “Our customers recognize that their networks are getting more complicated because of virtualization, cloud storage, and software-defined networking,” says Haboush. In addition, companies have a hard time finding IT professionals with the specialized skills needed to work effectively in such a challenging security environment and often lack the budget to hire them, in any case.
Another trend pushing companies to monitored and managed services is the growing importance of business applications. “It’s an application-driven world today,” says Haboush. “Applications touch everything the business does, they exchange valuable data with each other, and they are increasingly moving to the cloud in the form of software-as-a-service (SaaS).”
Security in an application-based environment requires both the technology to detect application-borne threats and the expertise and experience to use those capabilities to secure the network — and that’s exactly what Nexum and Palo Alto Networks combine to offer. “Palo Alto Networks provides visibility into the application, which is the entry point for strong application-level security,” says Haboush. “Nexum engineers are trained to use these features effectively, so it makes sense for companies to take advantage of our MSSP capabilities rather than try to replicate them internally.”
“Let’s Work Together”
One of the barriers to moving to a monitored and managed service is the working relationship. Many pure-play providers enforce an arms-length policy that prevents the customer’s IT staff from making changes on their own equipment. Nexum’s approach couldn’t be more different. “Our message to our customers is, ‘We’ll never know your network as well as your staff knows your network, so let’s work together,“ Haboush says. “Nexum analysts and engineers don’t want to replace the customer’s IT professionals; we want to augment them in a holistic way, working shoulder to shoulder with our counterparts.”
Of course, such an interactive model requires tight control over who does what, something that Nexum manages carefully. “Everybody goes through our RFC [request for change] process, which requires detailed documentation of every touch to the security infrastructure,” Haboush says. “The customer’s IT staff uses the Nexum online portal to submit tickets, check the status of requested changes, and pull reports.”
Nexum has great success with this collaborative approach and Palo Alto Networks plays a role in that success. “Customers love the flexibility of our model,” says Haboush “We can offer this model because the Palo Alto Networks platform itself is so flexible and customizable.”
Everybody Wins with Palo Alto Networks
Looking at the big picture, it’s clear why Nexum is winning business through its partnership with Palo Alto Networks. “The widespread adoption of Palo Alto Networks technology in the marketplace allows us to wrap our entire value proposition around Palo Alto Networks,” Haboush says. “Implementing robust, holistic security — monitored and managed service or in-house — mitigates the customer’s risk without slowing down their business. Nexum continues to grow by using Palo Alto Networks technology to ensure that our customers’ IT infrastructures deliver full value for their security investment. In short, everybody wins.”