Security landscapes: does more options mean better solutions?
The IT Security market is in a state of constant change. As new threats arise, so do new ways of countering those threats with technology. Of course, policy and process also play a huge part in building an appropriate security environment, but that’s a topic for another time.
The landscape of systems integrators is dynamic, their livelihoods depending solely upon delivering services and products to meet their clients’ needs more closely than their competitors. And a question arises at this point – what’s better? To work with umpteen partners and stretch thin their product or solution reach? Or to restrict the number of partners and focus on core competencies? Quality over quantity, an age old question.
In my opinion, it’s about focus. It’s about managing relationships and certifications, finding a balance between covering the right technologies and meeting the functional needs of clients. It may seem counterintuitive to limit the number of partners, and therefore products, but it actually makes sense for a number of reasons.
- Gain expertise with focus. By keeping a small partner-set, a systems integrator can ensure a high level of capability with the partners’ products. It’s one thing to ship a firewall or Intrusion Prevention System to a client but it’s another thing altogether to integrate, tune and support it so that it functions exactly as the client requires it to.
- Partner strategically. By selecting strategic partners that match your clients’ needs, for example a partner who delivers across geographies to multinational clients, ensures commitment to clients and the ability to accelerate consistency in delivery, no matter where the client is.
- Be significant. If a systems integrator is significant to its partner, then their clients are significant to the partner as well. How does one develop significance? The way to be significant to a partner is to sell and support a lot of their products. This is important because security technology, like any other technology, breaks down at some point. It is at those times that significant relationships with partners come into play for clients, as it enables rapid responses and priority status for clients.
With all of this in mind, Dimension Data’s security business has restricted the number of technology partner relationships that we maintain globally to only six. Yes, just six. Our six global partners cover 90% of our clients’ security technology requirements. And for the remaining 10%, we work with smaller partners on a regional or local basis to deliver the more niche products.
Strategically, we also select larger partners with global sales and support capability and proven technologies. We generally avoid start-up vendors and sometimes this means that we don’t supply the newest products in the market to our clients but we are almost never left with a client telling us that we sold them a technology that is no longer supported and has no upgrade path as the vendor went out of business.
So, by reducing the number of global partners Dimension Data works with, we are able to provide better, more consistent skills across all the geographies in which we operate and obtain rapid support and priority from those partners when our clients need it most.
Who said that being technology agnostic is a good thing? Not us.
General Manager, Security