Building Security Expertise through Partnerships

They say a leopard cannot change its spots to stripes –and many would assert the same principle holds true for most partners in the channel. If a partner’s business is “stripes” based, common wisdom would say they cannot easily adopt and sell “spot” solutions. However, that’s what many technology partners today are attempting to do by adding security solutions to their portfolio of offerings.

So, what are the security issues and trends that a “stripes-focused” channel partner needs to keep in mind today to successfully add “security-spots” to its portfolio and grow its business?

costofcybercrimeData Is Criminal Currency

As cyber-thieves continue to find new ways to steal, misuse and profit from the sale of sensitive enterprise data, more and more end-user customers want solutions that will help them protect everything from their employee and customer information to their corporate reputation and brand image. Regulated, corporate and financial data and intellectual property are the lifeblood of organizations. The more data organizations collect, the more there is to protect, putting the pace of growth in the security sector at an astonishing trajectory. With this growth comes new opportunities for resellers to expand their businesses by adding or refining new services, products and solutions that are in line with their business goals and objectives, while maintaining their existing competencies and customer base.

Global Regulations, Local Businesses

The continued upsurge in malicious data breaches worldwide have heightened interest among regulators, IT professionals and corporate executives in data security technologies that mitigate the risks of sensitive data falling into the wrong hands. It’s this keener interest that may be leading to the recent influx in crossborder security regulations. Take, for example, the General Data Privacy Regulations (GDPR) recently adopted in Europe, which are having a big impact on security. Companies today are just starting to sort out what GDPR implementation means to them, and these new rules governing trans-Atlantic data transfers will have an even greater impact in the coming months and years. Taking the GDPR legislation one step further is the EU Privacy Shield regulation – recently adopted between the EU and the U.S. – which imposes even stricter obligations on American companies to safeguard the personal data of European citizens, covering everything from health data to social media activities. Regulations such as these – and the direct obligations they impose on U.S. enterprises – present enormous opportunities to channel partners looking to expand in the security space.

Innovative Solutions = Channel Growth

Digital disruption is constantly changing the IT landscape, presenting opportunities for vendors to innovate and bring new, game-changing solutions to customers. While the host of new opportunities has been transformative for the way companies do business, it also has introduced new challenges that businesses are not used to dealing with. The good news, based on recent Ponemon Institute studies, is that encryption technologies provide the second-highest ROI for customers in safeguarding their data. Partners open to learning about encryption and tokenization technologies that address an existing and growing customer problem will thrive in this changing environment. To help partners bring encryption solutions to the market – and achieve profitable ROI for the organization – it’s important for a vendor to take a strategic approach in bringing their solutions and offerings into the channel. They must research their distributor and their reseller base to understand their strengths and weaknesses in adopting security solutions that are “channel ready” today.

They must ensure that the partnerships targeted are those that “match” the offer with their expertise, services skills and installed-based customers in key market segments and industries. It’s very important for the vendor, as well as their distributors and resellers, to ensure all their investments pay off and achieve their long-term revenue growth and success.

For example, resellers that focus on storage and server hardware infrastructure are a logical choice for a security “attach” solution. They are already selling to the individuals and organizations that buy servers and disk arrays. Adding on or upgrading to a solution within that customer’s environment to provide greater security for data-at-rest is a logical next step and great way for partners to begin to “add data security” and secure solutions to their portfolios and business expertise.

Partners that focus on Microsoft based software solutions can also add an encryption email solution easily to their portfolio. They can use their services expertise to help customers protect their current Outlook or Office 365 customer base with added functionality and benefits through offering a new email encryption solution. Not all security solutions for the channel, however, are as turnkey as the two examples above. Tools that provide security for data in-use and data in-motion solutions are a perfect example.

Here, successful partners need a robust knowledge of tool kits, API, ETL tools, integrations, business applications, etc., as data is moving in and out for analysis. These security solutions require robust security knowledge and security consulting expertise to understand how to have customer conversations, find projects, address needs, do a proof-of-concept and close the deal.

Ultimately, each reseller must perform an analysis to understand their own DNA and determine if they wish to make incremental strategic investments in the area of security for skills they do not have. For vendors desiring to expand their channel, a data security sales specialist is critical. These specialists can help the robust and talented partnership community through the first couple of sales until they feel comfortable and capable.

For many channel partners, there is a great deal of energy and excitement to get started in the security realm. But excitement does not equal enablement, which is often the biggest challenge. Having solutions, programs and promotions is one thing – but having highly eager and equipped partnerships with deep data security depth is another. Protecting sensitive data and meeting compliance mandates is of utmost importance to end users today. Data-centric security technology offers differentiators that other vendors and their partnerships simply do not have. For HPE partners, this means market differentiation and revenue growth opportunities are available now.

This article originally appeared on Channel Vision Magazine.

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