Hemisphere Technologies - A next-generation approach to distribution
- 05 December, 2016 06:49
Andrew Mamonitis - Managing Director, Hemisphere Technologies
With the number of daily security threats increasing by the second - creating statistics longer than smartphone numbers - the temptation to switch off is appealing.
It’s just one more cautionary tale amidst a sea of warnings.
Yet for the channel, the overwhelming and exponential rise of attacks targeting businesses represents new ways to extract value from a lucrative market.
Likewise, in distribution, where the pace of change is unrelenting and the consequence of inaction fatal.
“We’re moving away from our old line of thinking around security,” Hemisphere Technologies managing director, Andrew Mamonitis, said.
With IT outsourcing, security testing and data loss prevention offering the biggest growth opportunities, worldwide spending on information security products and services will reach $US81.6 billion in 2016, an increase of 7.9 per cent over 2015.
Latest findings from research analyst firm, Gartner, report that consulting and IT outsourcing are currently the largest categories of spending on information security.
Until the end of 2020, the highest growth is expected to come from security testing, IT outsourcing and data loss prevention (DLP).
“Our channel partners are hungry for next-generation technology, and we’ve been very active in introducing new offerings to the market,” Mamonitis added.
Speaking nine months after taking the reins at the specialist distributor - having vacated his role as Kaspersky Lab managing director of Australia and New Zealand - Mamonitis said Hemisphere is honing its skills around next-generation security products such as intervention, intrusion, detection and behavioural analysis.
“The biggest issue our partners face is striking a balance between compliance and business continuity,” he explained.
“Compliance is becoming a bigger issue every year, to the point where it’s becoming a mandatory issue. It’s no longer good enough to just deploy some endpoint protection.
“Businesses now require a layered approach, which is why we’ve started to move into other areas of technology.
“Having that approach, ensures our partners and customers are secure and compliant without reducing productivity.”
For Mamonitis, the security market is constantly moving and evolving, with compliance requirements changing as a result and businesses are seeking experts in the field.
“This suits our model as a distributor,” he said. “The security conversation is becoming easier in Australia as compliance continues to grow, because previously, it was a reluctant sale.
“But today CTOs can go to fellow C-level executives and have that security discussion, and quantify what security means as part of the business and what a return on investment will look like.
“It’s now more of a business sale because there’s been many cases recently of high-profile data breaches which can be devastating to an organisation. It’s not uncommon that a business closes its doors as a result of a breach.”
From a monetary perspective, managed services and software-as-a-service plays are expanding fast within the security market, creating new routes to market as a result.
But perhaps it’s unsurprising that managed security services are all the rage in the channel today, as margins on security products diminish and customers have less time to focus on keeping the house safe.
“The channel realises that the market is becoming very competitive and it’s becoming tougher to sell on-premise type solutions, meaning partners need new ways to ensure business sustainability and profitability,” Mamonitis added.
Consequently, managed security service providers (MSSP) are emerging in droves across Australia, providing outsourced monitoring and management of security devices and systems.
Aligned with the Hemisphere portfolio, common services include managed firewall, intrusion detection, virtual private network, vulnerability scanning and anti-viral services.
MSSPs are using high-availability security operation centres to provide 24/7 services designed to reduce the number of operational security personnel an enterprise needs to hire, train and retain to maintain an acceptable security posture.
“We turn managed service providers into managed security service providers,” Mamonitis said.
“Resellers are seeing huge upside in terms of the revenue that can be generated through this approach.
“But many resellers and distributors struggle to see how they fit into the jigsaw between transitioning from on-premise and selling boxes towards MSP and MSSP models.”
Looking ahead, and in line with industry movement, security spending will become increasingly service-driven as organisations continue to face staffing and talent shortages.
Furthermore, Mamonitis managed services allows security-focused resellers to create tighter end-user relationships, alongside monthly annuities and new levels of additional value.
Yet despite the clamour for MSSP models, the new approach to market creates new questions around the role of destitution within the channel.
“Some vendors struggle to understand how a distributor fits into that model,” Mamonitis acknowledged.
“We on boarded AlienVault about 18 months ago and enjoyed solid growth during the first year. Then in consultation with our team we created a managed service provider addition to the offering which has seen exponential growth over the past six months.
“But initially AlienVault attempted to go direct with the MSSP model without distribution and struggled to gain traction, which created our partnership in the market.
“Also the customer is still looking for that trusted partner who can support them through the bigger opportunities in the market today.”
In distribution, the notion of “value-add” continues to be the most overused and clichéd word within the channel, aligning itself to unworthy causes.
From a Hemisphere perspective however, and in provisioning enterprise-grade layered security solutions, channel support arrives through a different approach.
“We hang our hat on being a specialist distributor,” Mamonitis said. “We’ve also identified key gaps to plus in our portfolio while ensuring that we don’t spread ourselves too thinly.”
In operating through a “hands-on” reseller model, Mamonitis said Hemisphere “cherry picks” its vendors to align with the company’s overriding go-to-market strategy.
Since the turn of the year, the distributor has struck deals with F-Secure, Trustwave and Stratus, with many more in the pipeline.
“We’re very selective about the vendors we bring onboard and are not concerned by name, logo or size,” he added.
"We are interested in the relevance a vendor has with the customer and the reseller and we must ensure they are filling a need.
“This enables us to provide higher levels of customer service and technical knowledge, which allows us to go above and beyond that of a larger distributor.”
The end game for Mamonitis and the Hemisphere team is to deepen the levels of reseller engagement through providing complete security solutions, solutions capable of addressing emerging threats and attacks.
This article originally appeared in the November issue of ARN magazine - to subscribe, please click here