If there is a theme in the security world, apart from helping customers combat day-to-day threats, it is about making the transition towards a situation where protection is twinned with business processes designed to increase efficiency.
For many years the security industry has been about saying “no” and blocking off sites and e-mail servers that might contain threats to individual users and businesses.
But the days of building up walls and keeping everyone out have disappeared as the wireless and mobile world has developed. Now saying no has serious consequences for productivity and the attractiveness of a company as an employer.
In various profile interviews with MicroScope over the autumn, leading channel figures at Check Point, Websense and Sophos emphasised the way the world is changing and the need for resellers to adapt accordingly. The upshot is that the industry is entering a transition that will last throughout 2009 and in all likelihood a bit beyond that.
A changing place
If you chart the progress of the industry, things started out in a reactive way with the race being on to patch against a virus once it had gone into the wild and done enough damage to get on the radar.
Then came the craze for zero-day protection and a raft of security products that used behavioural patterns and reputational tools to predict where threats were likely to come from and strike first.
Then the world changed again with remote working and the growth in importance of the web, both making it virtually impossible for companies to continue with perimeter-wide lock-downs.
But added to that, the people responsible for the threat changed. The innocent hacker is a thing of the past; cyber criminals now use technology to access sensitive data that they can make money from.
The consequence for the reseller is that the sales conversation has started to change, and going into 2009 the key is to talk about making things possible rather than cutting off options such as remote working.
Nick Lowe, regional director for Northern Europe at Check Point, says not only will spending on security stay largely protected from the credit crunch, but the transition will create sales for the channel.
“This is probably the only technology where there is an opponent. With other technologies the ultimate goals of rival vendors are in line, but with security there is the hacking community, terrorists, etc, and they are working against you,” he says.
“Security is moving towards the data object rather than access control and availability and there is an opportunity for resellers helping answer the question that customers are asking about how they protect their data,” Lowe says.
He is not alone. Pat Dunne, senior director for the UK and Ireland at Websense, is hitting the road with a “just say yes” campaign to try to get away from the established industry approach of saying no.
As the next year spreads out in front of us there are a couple of clear directions you can see security heading in.
On the business front, customers will not only want the best protection, but resellers will be asked to make certain scenarios, including flexible working and greater remote access, possible and secure.
But added to that there will be opportunities in a technical sense with the emergence of the physical IP space. As CCTV cameras become digital the opportunities to link them in with security and storage policies will increase, and Centerprise, ComputerLinks and others have already identified that opportunity.
Of all of the markets that the channel operates in, the security world is one that cannot afford to be switched off when times become difficult. But as it becomes a more intrinsic part of doing business the expectations are that 2009 will provide further evidence of an industry in transition and more opportunities for those in the channel tuned into developments.
This was first published in January 2009