Thanks to a rash of high-profile security breaches, awareness of IT security issues has never been higher. However, securing an IT environment gets more complex with each passing day. Given those two factors, demand for managed security services should be escalating.
But a new survey from CompTIA suggests that solution providers across the channel are not tapping into that opportunity. In fact, the survey finds that only one in 10 of those surveyed are leading with their own security services brand rather than the brand of the security vendor. That doesn’t mean that channel partners are not offering security services. For example, a full 67 percent report offering risk management services, and another 61 percent say they have a mobile security service.
Still focused on security products, not services
For the most part, though, the CompTIA survey makes it clear that most IT channel partners are still squarely focused on products such as firewalls and anti-virus software. The CompTIA survey finds that 38 percent of respondents report that firewalls are their biggest selling security technologies, followed by 20 percent citing anti-virus software. The next biggest selling item—at only 9 percent—is security information event management (SIEM) platforms.
Furthermore, the CompTIA survey makes it clear that only about a third of the IT security technology being deployed is being hosted by the channel partner.
Of course, one assumption that might be made is that channel partners don’t have the expertise required to deliver security as a managed service. But the CompTIA survey also reveals that only about 15 percent of the solution providers surveyed say they're having a significant issue with acquiring IT security skills.
Put it all together, and it’s clear that while many channel partners are managing IT security products on behalf of their customers, very few of them are leading with a managed security service made up of multiple security technologies they've woven together. In fact, for the most part IT security services remain primarily tied to managing little more than firewall deployments.
Seth Robinson, senior director of technology analysis for CompTIA, says with the rise of the cloud it’s only a matter of time before more security technologies are consumed as a service. But for the moment at least, this shift is occurring slowly. Robinson says channel partners are clearly challenged when it comes to building their own IT security services brand.
Naturally, that also leads to something of a chicken-and-the-egg problem when it comes to selling IT security products. With the channel relying so heavily on vendor marketing, most of the focus is going to continue to be on products such as firewalls and anti-virus software. The end result is that awareness of the value of other classes of IT security products and technologies winds up being constrained. If IT security vendors want to see more of those products and technologies being consumed, helping channel partners craft a branded security service needs to become a much higher priority for all concerned.