Trust, but Verify
Once you know which technologies your client needs, your next step is to select a vendor. That’s an easier process when it comes to familiar product categories like spam filtering than for newer, often heavily hyped offerings. “There’s a lot of muscle being put behind marketing,” Venkatesan observes. Channel pros who wish to avoid bad choices must focus on hard evidence instead.
That begins with peer input. Ask any vendor you evaluate for references, Sanchez says, and solicit opinions from other solution providers via channel communities like The ASCII Group and Spiceworks. “I find the SMB reseller community is usually pretty quick to tell you the reality of how easy [a vendor’s technology] is to deploy, how easy they are to work with, and whether or not they would partner with that same company again,” he notes.
Schlissel puts any solution that makes it past that first gauntlet to the test. “We send it to our engineering team and we tell them to put it in the lab and start poking holes in it,” he says. If the results are encouraging, the next step is putting the system into production internally. “We eat our own dog food,” says Schlissel, who also feeds it to a small set of customers willing to pilot new products.
Venkatesan recommends one final step before making a yes or no call on a new security solution—quiz its maker on what comes next for the system. “Vendors who are committed will come up with a long-term plan wherein they’ll clearly articulate the kind of support and the kind of investment roadmap that they will be making to enhance the product,” he says.
Plan on asking a lot of vendors for roadmaps in the years to come. Security is a never-ending problem.
“Customers love to write a check and then believe that they have security. Security doesn’t work that way,” Sanchez says. “It’s ever-changing. The bad guys understand all of the technology that’s out there, and they’re always going to try to circumvent it.”
That means vendors will forever be looking for new ways to cut them off, and channel pros will forever need to keep up with it all.
Opening image: iStock