The most valuable projects usually begin with a commitment. Whether it’s an obligation to build a new training program or to gain a greater understanding of the latest industry trend, someone has to lead the way. Case in point: our CompTIA member communities often generate the ideas and create initiatives that result in some of our most cutting-edge research projects.
Over the past several years, we’ve collaborated on everything from cloud and managed services to the difficulties of managing the multi-generational workforce. The research team explores a range of these channel-oriented topics each year and brings the findings back to the communities to help drive their industry discussions forward. This reciprocal relationship enhances the final output ̶ and scores of channel professionals benefit from our combined efforts.
That familiar scenario played out again when the IT Security Community made a very specific request. They asked the research team to help them gain a better understanding of the technologies and services offered by channel security firms.
Since most of our previous security studies were end-user focused, this was a great way to dig deeper into the channel opportunities. Earlier this year we posed a number of questions to Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs) and Managed Service Providers (MSPs) with a strong focus on security. What we found in the recently-released Security in the IT Channel report was enlightening…and a little surprising.
We asked a number of questions about their portfolios to determine which technologies and what services were being offered. Based on the results, we found (at first glance) providers had almost everything in their portfolio. Each specific technology or service was in place at more than half of the responding companies.
Of course, it would be good to qualify what the term "offer" means. Consider that 55% of the companies in our survey employed less than 50 people, and 88% had less than 100 employees. After removing overhead (especially at the larger firms), it would be extremely unlikely that a limited technical team could support such a broad range of technology products. It would also be difficult for many of them to be experts in regulations, provide robust education and perform thorough audits. Providing all those services on their own, while juggling all their other IT responsibilities, would be a fantastic feat.
Partnering may factor into channel firms’ responses here. Some firms could be including the combined portfolios of multiple organizations in their definition of “offer.” For example, an MSP may specialize in firewall installation and support, and work with others to provide complete security solutions, training and assessments. A partner firm may also tap into its vendors’ broad portfolios when a customer needs additional options.
In reality, the data on revenue and volume of security solutions suggests that a subset of a provider’s offerings drive most of the activity. Firewalls and antivirus tools rank high in portfolio offerings, followed by some of the latest technologies, with the most complex services bringing up the rear. That situation matches previous expectations. Our earlier end user research found that customers are still discovering how to build a modern security posture. Channel firms that can help their clients in that effort will likely do well.
The real challenge now is in building a portfolio for future needs and in helping clients take the right steps towards a new approach. Members of the IT Security Community started that conversation during their meeting at AMM. What’s the best way to assemble the specific expertise they need (hire, train or partner)? How do they educate customers on the defenses and industry best practices they need to adopt?
Security has become business critical for today’s digital organizations. Channel firms that focus on their core capabilities and address potential solution and support gaps with key partnerships are becoming invaluable. Just ask yourself, can your company truly protect and support the technology-driven business client of the future? If the answer is not a resounding “YES,” invest some time in the Security in the IT Channel study.
Seth Robinson is Senior Director of Technology Analysis at CompTIA