Partnering: Some Security Vendors Still Don't Get It

By Frank Ohlhorst  |  Posted 2007-09-27 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Opinion: Security vendors have a dirty little secret. Can you guess what it is?

It may be an oversimplification, but the channel is really just about three things; products, services and relationships. Successful solution providers have mastered those elements to build revenue and ongoing business. It seems so simple, yet a lot of vendors just don't grasp the concept.

Let's take look at how most security vendors address their partners. The companies build up impressive channel programs that offer training, good margins and support for their partners, all of which seems to work out well in the beginning.

But there is a dirty little secret, one that is often revealed several months down the road; a secret that damages customer relationships and can cut solution providers out of the ongoing revenue equation. What is it? Direct sales of contracts and license renewals.

When a solution provider sells a software security product, security appliance or service, it is implied that there must be some sort of regular updates. The product usually comes with a year or so of automated updates and support. The real question here is: "What happens when the year is up"?

Many of the vendors have no problem directly contacting the customer for service renewals or upgrades and most often do just that. That simple act undermines a solution provider's relationship with their customer because the vendor usurps the solution provider's role as the trusted advisor, which takes revenue opportunities right out of the solution provider's pocket.

The irony here is that the solution provider usually registers security products for customers as part of their service, and that registration information is what fuels the vendor's renewal business.

So what is the lesson here? Solution providers need to carefully examine their partner relationships with their security vendors and make sure they are not cut out of the process. Ideally, a security vendor will go through their solution provider when it comes to renewals and not directly contact the customer. Of course, that is a little harder when it comes to products that are sold both through the channel and through retail.

In that case, vendors should make sure that the solution provider that registers the product has a spot on the registration form that identifies them as the seller of the product. Vendors can then use that code to pay out commissions on upgrades to the solution provider if a customer goes direct, or at the very least recommend that the customer work with their solution provider on the upgrade or renewal process.

Strangely enough, Vendors have the power here. By working with their partners, vendors can turn the renewal process into something that can drive more business for both themselves and their partners. Vendors need to give their channel partners every opportunity to communicate with their customers to build more business. After all, something as simple as an antivirus product renewal could turn into a sale of additional security products.

For solution providers, put your vendors to the task! Ask not what you can do for them, but what they can do for you.

Frank J. Ohlhorst is executive technology editor of The Channel Insider. He can be reached at frank.ohlhorst@ziffdavisenterprise.com.

 
 
 
 
Frank Ohlhorst Frank J. Ohlhorst is the Executive Technology Editor for eWeek Channel Insider and brings with him over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology field.He began his career as a network administrator and applications program in the private sector for two years before joining a computer consulting firm as a programmer analyst. In 1988 Frank founded a computer consulting company, which specialized in network design, implementation, and support, along with custom accounting applications developed in a variety of programming languages.In 1991, Frank took a position with the United States Department of Energy as a Network Manager for multiple DOE Area Offices with locations at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPL), Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), FermiLAB and the Ames Area Office (AMESAO). Frank's duties included managing the site networks, associated staff and the inter-network links between the area offices. He also served at the Computer Security Officer (CSO) for multiple DOE sites. Frank joined CMP Technology's Channel group in 1999 as a Technical Editor assigned to the CRN Test Center, within a year, Frank became the Senior Technical Editor, and was responsible for designing product testing methodologies, assigning product reviews, roundups and bakeoffs to the CRN Test Center staff.In 2003, Frank was named Technology Editor of CRN. In that capacity, he ensured that CRN maintained a clearer focus on technology and increased the integration of the Test Center's review content into both CRN's print and web properties. He also contributed to Netseminar's, hosted sessions at CMP's Xchange Channel trade shows and helped to develop new methods of content delivery, Such as CRN-TV.In September of 2004, Frank became the Director of the CRN Test Center and was charged with increasing the Test Center's contributions to CMP's Channel Web online presence and CMP's latest monthly publication, Digital Connect, a magazine geared towards the home integrator. He also continued to contribute to CMP's Netseminar series, Xchange events, industry conferences and CRN-TV.In January of 2007, CMP Launched CRNtech, a monthly publication focused on technology for the channel, with a mailed audience of 70,000 qualified readers. Frank was instrumental in the development and design of CRNTech and was the editorial director of the publication as well as its primary contributor. He also maintained the edit calendar, and hosted quarterly CRNTech Live events.In June 2007, Frank was named Senior Technology Analyst and became responsible for the technical focus and edit calendars of all the Channel Group's publications, including CRN, CRNTech, and VARBusiness, along with the Channel Group's specialized publications Solutions Inc., Government VAR, TechBuilder and various custom publications. Frank joined Ziff Davis Enterprise in September of 2007 and focuses on creating editorial content geared towards the purveyors of Information Technology products and services. Frank writes comparative reviews, channel analysis pieces and participates in many of Ziff Davis Enterprise's tradeshows and webinars. He has received several awards for his writing and editing, including back to back best review of the year awards, and a president's award for CRN-TV. Frank speaks at many industry conferences, is a contributor to several IT Books, holds several records for online hits and has several industry certifications, including Novell's CNE, Microsoft's MCP.Frank can be reached at frank.ohlhorst@ziffdavisenterprise.com
 
 
 
 
 
























 
 
 
 
 
 

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