Nick McAlister, Senior Director, EMEA Channel & Partner Go to Market at VMware

As our partners attest in nearly every conversation we have with them, almost everything we knew about security has gone through a radical re-think over the past 18 months.

Organizations of all shapes and sizes have had to rapidly adapt to a future where security has taken center stage. VMware ran a study earlier this year which revealed targeted victims now experience integrity and destructive attacks more than 50 percent of the time.1   That’s a sizeable task for any business to have to be faced with.

It’s why I believe, now more than ever, that partners have a significant opportunity through education, certification, and training to help customers navigate the changing threat landscape.

Talking to one of our partners in the Netherlands, Fondo, and its Business Development Manager, Joris Adriaanse, he explained, “When the shift to remote working happened, a lot of customers lost visibility of what employees were doing, and how they were doing it – from a security perspective it was a major challenge.”

On the surface it might seem most customers have the same challenge; the reality, however, is that every customer is different. That means a core competency for the channel to master is the ability to: address the individual security concerns of each business, assess how those concerns might impact business goals, and create an action plan that ensures security supports their goals.

The Opportunity Awaits (and It’s Only Going to Get Bigger)

This competency is becoming increasingly important; not just to help customers with a more complete understanding of their security challenges, but for the lucrative rewards on offer. IT Security spending in Europe will hit $37bn this year according to IDC and surpass $50bn by 2025.

For channel partners, that represents a huge opportunity. The demand to solve the security puzzle is larger than ever before.

While the rewards are substantial, the challenge remains in that—like every department in the business—IT is having to balance modernizing with consolidating. No customer has an endless cheque book which means IT cannot be in all places at all times – so they are asked, where can they offer the greatest value (i.e., protection) with minimal disruption to the business?

Security itself has become a board-level conversation, and as such the ecosystem of buyers has evolved. It has become much bigger than just the remit of the CISO – there are other players that need to know the value of what a new process looks like.

Mathias Meyenburg, CEO at vleet GmbH, explained: “Previously, we only talked to the server team about compute and storage resources, but today we have to integrate colleagues from the network team and/or the security team to develop a uniform, homogeneous solution. In short, the discussions are becoming more and more complex.”

Yet despite the level of effort and investment businesses are putting into protecting themselves, three primary challenges persist. It’s here where partners can play a pivotal role in businesses overcoming their security challenges:

1 The 2021 Global Incident Response Threat Report surveyed 123 cybersecurity professionals during May-June 2021

1. Too little context: Information on threats that have occurred and/or successful attacks must be presented in context by combining data from all sources in an intelligent fashion, and then shared across teams. Too often we hear customers are overwhelmed with alerts from all directions, making it difficult to see what’s really happening to respond with accuracy and speed.

How can partners help? Partners that can use advanced threat intelligence and make it manageable for customers operating with restricted resources will cement their place as trusted, strategic advisors.

It helps customers achieve better security outcomes, reduce security gaps, and deliver better employee and customer experiences.

2. Too many silos: Security, IT, and operations teams each approach protecting customers’ environments from a different perspective. And each group uses a variety of different point tools, generating unique—and often isolated—data in the process. What’s more, these groups are siloed from an organizational perspective.

According to Michael Völk, Managing Director at vleet: “Customers are often faced with the general problem that a siloed mentality exists ... The challenge is to create a common understanding across departments and to enable cross-border collaboration between technical teams. In the context of security, creating that unified mindset across the business can be incredibly complex.”

It’s here where partners can really add value by highlighting how siloed strategies act as a band-aid, briefly stemming the flow of challenges but not enough to be a long-term solution.

3. Too many surfaces to defend: The average enterprise deploys more than 100 discrete security tools to protect itself. Too many of these discrete security tools come with more problems than solutions – they are often too slow to respond to the immediate threat in front of them and require more resources to manage than many customers have available. In addition, the complexities of today’s attacks mean advanced threats can circumnavigate legacy approaches.

The technology decisions customers are making today directly impact the opportunities they create for tomorrow. And it’s the role of channel partners to help them navigate what’s next and combat the changing threat landscape.

Looking Ahead

Through certification, education, and training, forward-thinking partners are helping customers unlock real value from their security investments and eradicate the familiar challenges that almost every organisation is up against.

As Meyenburg summarises, “The IT industry—and security in particular—never stands still, so you have to align yourself to vendors that support you with the training, skill building, and know-how that allows you to proactively support your customers.”

Whether you’re an existing partner or taking your first steps into VMware’s security portfolio, head over to our Partner Connect portal to learn how to help your customers meet their most pressing security needs. Or, tune into our Partnership Perspectives podcast episode featuring Optiv CTO Todd Weber to hear how you can work to elevate your customers’ cybersecurity competence.

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