Given today’s burgeoning threat landscape, the market should abound with rich pickings for partners flexing their cyber security muscle, but not all channel players are equal in what they can offer, with new research uncovering common traits that separate successful cyber security partners from the rest.
According to industry analyst firm Canalys, there are at least eight common characteristics that successful cyber security partners claim, including running a dedicated cyber security practice, having a focus on managed services and demonstrating the ability to sell to senior leadership within client organisations.
Another common trait uncovered by the research was the ability to offer a comprehensive suite of cyber security technologies.
Endpoint and network security were the most common technologies sold by the channel, according to Canalys’ research, but leading cyber security partners had offerings spanning multiple areas, including identify management and cloud protection.
Below is the full list of the eight common traits seen across the group of successful cyber security provider partners observed by Canalys:
- Offer a comprehensive suite of cyber security technologies
- Is dedicated, or have a dedicated division focused on security
- Primarily sell to senior leadership within client base
- Possess a deep understanding of customers’ IT environments
- Can design and implement cyber security policies for clients
- Provide a full suite of managed services
- Operate a security operations centre
- Currently recruiting to support cyber security practice
The findings, many of which will come as little surprise to most partners involved in the cyber security trade, come after Canalys developed its channel assessment tool Alys to address what it claims was a recognised issue among vendors to identify maturity and skills within their partner communities.
According to Canalys, channel-centric vendors acknowledge that a successful partner strategy is not necessarily about having the greatest number of partners, but about understanding the capability of partners to deliver the best customer outcomes.
The Alys-based research, launched in partnership with global distributor Tech Data and cyber security solutions vendor Trend Micro, was designed to give vendors a lens through which to focus on the capabilities within their partner channel.
More than 200 partners with cyber security practices were assessed in the initial phase of the research.
“Our goal was to understand the different strengths and weaknesses of partners engaged in the business of cyber security, and to help partners identify areas for improvement,” said Canalys vice president Alex Smith. “Cyber security skills in the channel are in high demand and hard to find.”
Through the initial phase of the assessment, key common traits of leading cyber security partners were identified. These leaders were channel players that scored highly in the assessment, and which are seeing their cyber security business grow in double digits, outpacing the overall market, which grew 10 per cent in 2020.
“The fastest growing areas in cyber security include cloud security; identity and access management; security orchestration, automation and response (SOAR) solutions; and endpoint and mobile security,” said David Ellis, Tech Data Europe vice president of mobility and security. “Much of this need has been driven by the move to hybrid working and the need to secure networks to support this move.”
For Trend Micro’s European MSP director Gary O’Connell, the prevalence of a leading partner’s ability to sell to senior-level executives within their customer base was a particularly important point.
“We are increasingly seeing cyber security become a board-level issue, especially as partners develop their managed security services portfolios,” said O’Connell. “It is important that our MSP [managed service provider] partners are focused on selling to C-level executives where possible as ultimately it will be their responsibility if a breach occurs.”
In March, Canalys revealed that after a year of high-profile data breaches, cyber security spending had soared globally by 10 per cent to hit US$53 billion.
Canalys said at the time that the segment outperformed all other IT segments except business continuity and workforce productivity, which took precedence during the pandemic.
“Cyber security must be front and centre of digital plans, otherwise there will be a mass extinction of organisations, which will threaten the post-COVID-19 economic recovery,” said Canalys chief analyst Matthew Ball. “A lapse in focus on cyber security is already having major repercussions, resulting in the escalation of the current data breach crisis and acceleration of ransomware attacks.”
Last year saw a number of major enterprise and technology sector cyber attacks, with Canalys claiming more data records were compromised in just 12 months than in the previous 15 years combined.
The most high-profile of these was network monitoring vendor SolarWinds, which set off a wave of supply chain attacks following the breach. Hotel chain Marriott was also hit for the second time in two years. Closer to home, the Australian government and media company Nine Entertainment were hit by cyber attacks.
Moreover, many businesses were forced to implement business continuity measures quickly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic last year, the research firm said.