Providing the best cyber security solutions to enterprise requires the ability to combine IT and networking skills with in-depth knowledge of cyber security products and services. The solution provider must also understand the client’s business domain, as well as its internal and external processes for purchasing, billing, maintenance, upgrade, patching and other organizations activities. Furthermore, with the rapid evolution of enterprise to cloud-based SaaS, the security solution provider must also consider virtualization, software-defined networking, and mobility. During research for my 2017 TAG Cyber Security Annual, I heard many peer security managers referencing their valued partnership with a security solution provider, also called value-added reseller (VAR). Wanting to better understand the nature of this relationship, I called Dan Burns, CEO of Optiv. Dan was kind enough to share his expert views on how best to serve the enterprise market with world-class cyber security solutions.
EA: Dan, is the cyber security industry, with all its vendors, compliance requirements, and need to support changes in IT, more complicated now than it ever has been?
DB: Ed, I think you could make the case for that position. Security teams can no longer centralize their security functions into a perimeter gateway like so many businesses did in the mid-Nineties. It was simpler then with the firewall and its adjacent security products like IDS and simple DLP bundled into either one product, as in a UTM, or connected in a small cluster, as in a typical DMZ. Add to that some anti-virus on the PCs and you had the majority of enterprise security architectures for over a decade. The role of the value-added reseller in those days was to ensure that the IT security team was getting the best possible deal. And in many cases, the VAR would manage the contracts, purchasing, billing and so on. Today, however, the typical security architecture combines many different control areas including advanced identity and access management, security and behavioral analytics, adaptive authentication, and on and on. With this evolution in architecture, the traditional VAR has also evolved to a modern security solution provider, offering far more value than just helping to arrange and manage deals with vendors. The modern security solution provider is a trusted partner.
EA: When enterprise clients seek to reduce their security complexity, what methods does your team recommend they consider?
DB: First, security teams should make sure to buy the correct solution for the existing threat in their specific environment. Avoiding purchase of products that might be part of a current fad will only complicate matters and a good security solution provider partner can help sort this out for clients. Furthermore, with the progression to virtualization, it is now possible to implement many more functions without the need to purchase hardware. This simplifies procurement, provisioning, billing, and maintenance.
EA: Let’s stay with that topic. Do you see most IT and enterprise security teams trending toward cloud solutions over traditional enterprise hosted hardware? And are they really using public cloud services for their applications?
DB: Some industries are more aggressive than others, but there is a clear trend toward virtualization and cloud – and that includes SaaS applications hosted in multi-tenant public clouds, a decision that might have been totally unheard of just a year or two ago. It’s the economics that drive this decision in the data center, and where IT security teams previously would fight this trend, citing concerns about data handling and operation security, now they are investigating new solutions such as cloud compliance and cloud access security brokers.
EA: What are some of the global product and service trends in cyber security? Do you see more organizations buying locally to avoid concerns about code or system integrity?
DB: We see just the opposite in the security marketplace. The landscape of products and services for dealing with cyber risk is now a vibrant global assortment of vendors from many different countries. Take Israel, for example; the wide range of options from new start-ups in that country is staggering, and our clients are looking for ways to extract that value into their enterprise. So, while it is reasonable to worry about the lineage or legacy of a product that might have been developed in another country, it is probably not reasonable to carry those concerns to the extreme of restricting purchase to local domestic vendors. Our clients buy solutions globally.
EA: With ISPs and data centers moving to software defined networking with their on-demand capabilities, what will be the role of the solution provider if a client can just point and click to provision new services?
DB: The value from solution providers goes beyond support for provisioning, so we welcome the self-service aspect of many cloud applications and SaaS offerings. Our role will grow considerably in this new virtual environment as our customers require trusted partners to help sort out the deals provided by different vendors, hosting providers, and security service providers. Our team at Optiv is excited to step up to this challenge and we look forward to helping our clients’ transition to newer and more secure enterprise architectures.