Customers asking channel to help rationalise security

A tight economy has encouraged more scrutiny of security estates, with Cisco among those charting a rise in users reaching out for help from partners in sorting out bloated software estates

Customers continue to use too many security products with a clear opportunity for the channel to guide them through a consolidation process.

There have been some expectations that, given the cost-of-living crisis, the number of security products that users are trying to interact with and maintain would be lowered to save time and money, and consolidation is a theme that Cisco is keeping an eye on closely.

Oliver Tuszik, senior vice-president of global partner sales and general manager of routes to market at Cisco, used a quarterly update to focus on the developments in the security market.

“It is still a shocking surprise that most of our customers have a huge amount of different security tools – even small business which have 200 people [are] normally running up to six different tools to manage their security part. When you go into large corporate enterprise business, they normally have more than 50 and up to 100 different tools, and then often from at least 20 different vendors,” he said.

He added that customers are facing difficulties in finding skilled staff to manage those numerous tools, with the security skills shortage continuing to be a headache globally.

“It is a difficult situation right now for all of our customers – they are experiencing one of the biggest challenges when it comes to security,” said Tuszik.

The situation is causing more customers to look to partners to help them ensure they have end-to-end protection with less pressure to stack a portfolio full of point products that don’t talk to each other and require burdensome management.

“What customers are looking for is less about the best security solutions, and more about bringing an end-to-end coverage model that helps them to manage the complexity,” said Tuszik.

Stephanie Hagopian, vice-president at CDW’s cyber and physical security solutions practice, said it was already experiencing that desire for reducing security tools from customers.

“The complexity that comes from all the tools has driven probably the number one thing we’re seeing right now: a request for technology rationalisation,” she added “The macro-economic pressures are causing customers to scrutinise their investments closely. They’re taking a little longer to evaluate solutions.”

She added that those in the channel who can meet that need are going to be in a strong position: “Asking us to help them from a tech rationalisation perspective, it’s creating a great opportunity for the platform play.”

Hagopian added that that shift benefitted vendors such as Cisco that could deliver a platform approach, but there were also more general benefits from working with a household name.

“We’re seeing our clients lean more towards the familiar vendors, the solutions where they already have a footprint they can organically expand, rather than reinvent the wheel and find a best-of-breed point solution, because that just adds to the complexity,” she said.

Ryan Sheehan, senior vice-president of SHI Advanced Solutions Group, said that customers were looking towards the channel to help them protect data and overcome a lack of security skills.

“Every customer engagement and conversation, there’s a security component regardless of what the conversation is. It points back to the cyber plan to protect [the business]. Regardless of segment, regardless of vertical, there’s common challenges that we see with people, and the skill shortage is one of the top ones,” he said.

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