Cisco: Channel lacks security skills

Cisco: Channel lacks security skills

Cisco is the latest vendor to express concerns about the current industry skills shortage. The networking giant has pointed to a specific lack of skilled and experienced channel partners in the security arena.

This was the result of a current boom in the sector, general manager of strategy and new business, Kevin Bloch, said.

"We see this sort of demand for skills wherever there's a hot market and security is the current example," he said. "It's a question of skill but also experience, and the problem is that few people have both."

Despite this, Bloch was at pains to convey that the phenomenon was not Cisco specific.

"Cisco's sales numbers across the board are outstanding and we are continuing to put people through certification," he said. "It's just that there are opportunities we haven't even begun to address."

The shortage was not affecting its distribution partner LAN Systems, according to general manager, Wendy O'Keeffe. But she concurred with Bloch on the wider industry shortage.

"The market is cyclical and it takes a while for the channel to catch up on new technologies," she said. "At the same time, vendors have to pick the right channel partners to work with.

"As a value-added distributor we can help with things like training but areas such as security and convergence are very technical, so they really require the certification of partners."

Express Data general manager of marketing and operations, Peter Masters, admitted there was a shortage of resellers with engineering skills, but said the situation was far from a crisis.

"Vendors have good relationships with training and education organisations," he said. "But they can't just snap their fingers and get experienced staff and channel partners."

Bloch said the vendor was investing in training for its internal staff as well as certification for partners.

"There's also a question of quality," he said. "We could do a one-hour certification course and get 40,000 people through in a year, but would that help partners convey what this technology can do for a small business or CEO?"

Earlier this year, Cisco channel manager, Suzanne Hansen, told ARN that resellers needed to change their skill sets if they wanted to stay competitive in a networking market that was evolving.

"We need to change the skill base of the resellers we have to make sure they understand the security and storage markets while, at the same time, identifying new partners that are already playing in that space," she said at the time.

Hansen was unavailable to comment on this story.

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