Published: May 3rd, 2015

MONTREAL – One of the biggest questions coming out of the recently concluded Cisco Partner Summit is with the new Software Partner Program how are channel partners and their customers going to align with security?

The market opportunity is definitely ahead of the channel with approximately 21 billion devices expected to be online in 2018 growing to 50 billion devices in 2020. Currently with 99.4 per cent of the physical world still unconnected as all these devices get online how secure will they be?

David Goeckeler, senior vice president of Cisco’s Security Business Group, said security has to underline all of these Internet of Everything deployments and further fast IT.

“The thing with security is that it’s mostly implemented as a defensive posture. That has to change and we need to make it look like it’s a driver to economic growth.” Goeckeler said.

According to Goeckeler, for about a decade now businesses have used perimeter defenses, but that model is not realistic for the future because there are ways now to penetrate the network.

Goeckeler suggested that security today needs to be visibility driven similar to the network. “The focus should be on threat centric security. The biggest problem with customers is trying to keep the threats out. But threats are so pervasive now because they are being built by professional cyber-criminals,” he said.

By moving it to a platform-based approach it brings more capabilities to customers and reduces complexity. On the services side of security, Goeckeler said this area is growing faster than actual product sales. Offerings such as advisory services, managed services, deployment services, incident response services and a managed threat defense service is providing an 8.9 per cent growth for the channel specifically in the mid-market over strict product sales.

One of the challenges to this for the channel is the high number of new entrants into the security market. Goeckeler described it as “incredible.” The issue he sees with this is that hackers are able to monetize the data because the pace of innovation in security has been fragmented because of all these security vendors in the market.

Dave Hart, COO of New York solution provider Persidio Networks, said his company has standardized on fewer strategic vendor partners. Approximately 90 per cent of the company’s revenue is through 10 vendor partners. In security there is only meaningful business with five vendors that includes Cisco.

“We are at an inflection point with security,” Hart said. “It’s currently sold as an attached product. This leads to a lot of hard conversations so we made investment to strengthen ourselves in services and went from a prevent, upfront strategy to policy assessments to help them understand where the threats are.”

Persidio bundles these services up and calls it Next Generation Risk Management. Hart added that this offering starts with policy and then has reoccurring services.

A secondary issue is lack of IT security talent at all levels from the channel, to vendors and inside the customer organizations. This too has made it hard to innovation with the channel partners, Goeckeler added. Cisco is addressing these concerns by investing in:

  • 100 per cent new training and enabled content;
  • Integrated SourceFire and other offerings;
  • Partner workshops on security has increased seven-fold, with 12 more session scheduled for fourth quarter;
  • Cisco cloud threat defense series enablement;
  • Changed partner incentives;
  • Cisco security ignite registration program for security focus deals featuring deepest discounts across any other programs;
  • Enhanced trade-in rebates;
  • POV incentives with security posture assessment; and
  • Incumbency renewal program.

Cisco is putting the finishing touches on new security specializations Express, Advanced and Master tiers that are planned to be released shortly and will also be providing the channel with seed units for customer networks that can produce security assessments. “We are willing to pay partners to do that,” Goeckeler said.