A booming security market is touted to be on the horizon, and resellers agree skilling up is the most important tactic to take advantage of customers' increasing interest.
Network integrators and vendors contacted by ARN said making sure they had the skill set required, and the ability to look at the business aspects of security, were key to success.
The view that companies will be taking a closer look at their IT security is backed up by research from Ernst & Young in its second annual Global Information Security Survey, published last year. The survey found that 78 per cent of organisations were not confident their network was safe from internal attack, and 50 per cent lacked confidence about their security against external attack. In addition, 16 per cent of firms had suffered, or believed they may have suffered, at least one break-in via the Internet. Of those, 75 per cent had a firewall in place. The survey found that most organisations used firewalls (77 per cent) and passwords (67 per cent) as their main Internet security, with only 25 per cent having implemented any form of data encryption.
Internet networking integrator Balanced IT Services' managing director, John Perkins, said it had been involved in security for about two years.
Perkins' advice to resellers looking to break into the security market is that they should make sure they have the deep skill sets needed.
He said Balanced IT Services had approached this up by gaining good skills in routing technology and cross-training those skill sets and Microsoft IP skills across to security products, such as Check Point. He said about 50 per cent of the learning was through courses, with hands-on experience also an important part of skill building.
Business consulting skills is another area Perkins believes resellers need to have, because when they are implementing security products it is part of their customer's overall security policy. He said security does lend itself to an ongoing relationship with customers. `It takes you away from just being a technology supplier to being a business consulting supplier as well.'
Mitch Radomir, business development and marketing manager at NetStar, said resellers wanting to break into offering security needed to understand the technologies and the vendors involved. This was because there were about 20 or 30 different areas which could require a security solution and resellers needed to know what products were available to be able to provide a solution to their customers.
Radomir added that there are definitely opportunities out there for resellers to offer security, and said NetStar had a security practice. He said it required a commitment to gaining knowledge of the technology and the ability to build corporate security policies, which involved looking more at the business issues.
Network integrator Systemcraft's managing director, Claudio Antonioli, said its customer base was predominantly SMEs. Antonioli said they had gotten involved in security because a number of its customers had raised the issue of hackers. `It sort of formulated in my mind and I had to find out more about it.'
Antonioli said security involved thinking more about longer-term issues, and said its customers saw Systemcraft more as a solutions provider because of it.
`What we're doing is trying to look at the whole area of risk. The risk management is something resellers should see as a good opportunity,' he said.
Network integrator Logical Connections' general manager, Carl Jefferys, believes the next `big thing' will be biometric authentication. He said that security was of growing concern to companies, particularly senior management. `I think the initial thing it offers is an opportunity for resellers to converse with fairly high levels of management in organisations. Because of the importance of corporate security, it's something that CEOs are responsible for, particularly if strategic data can be compromised.'
Peter Sandilands, regional manager, Australia and New Zealand, at software vendor Check Point Software Technologies, said resellers wanting to offer security solutions to their customers needed to have a broad spectrum of skills.
He cites excellent IP routing and a knowledge of operating systems as crucial, coupled with a strong business knowledge.
`Resellers at the moment are thinking about it in terms of boxes and software,' Sandilands said. He suggests starting with the premise that security is a business problem, not a technology problem. `It's all about defining the security policy for the customer.' He said it was a technical problem to make that work, and a business problem to decide how you were going to achieve this. Sandilands uses the example of people who have bought firewalls, thinking they were secure, not being aware that they may not have been installed properly. `You can throw technology at these problems and still not make a secure environment.'
Sandilands said one of the benefits to resellers of providing security solutions to customers was that it created an ongoing relationship. `Security is the perfect area for that because it isn't a static thing.' Security was an evolutionary process for organisations because they were constantly dealing with new threats.
He believes that the surface has just begun to be scratched for opportunities available in security, particularly to provide services, rather than just products.