Resellers May Carve Niche in IM Security Wares

By John Moore  |  Print this article Print


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With IM systems being employed in 92 percent of all commercial and noncommercial enterprises, Contract Watch columnist John Moore sees IM security possibly becoming a hot area for resellers and integrators who do their homework.

Security software vendors are rolling out instant messaging solutions, and they believe resellers can help move their new wares.

Enterprise-class deals involving IM security appear to be few and far between at this point. But the market is young, and vendor wares are just starting to gain traction.

Zone Labs six months ago began shipping an optional IM security module for its Integrity endpoint security solution. "It is in the implementation phase in a number of accounts," said Fred Felman, vice president of marketing at Zone Labs.

The module supports AOL IM, ICQ, Yahoo Messenger and Microsoft's MSN Messenger.

More sales could be on the horizon. Zone Labs has about 1,600 Integrity accounts, many of which "have expressed desire to integrate [IM] security," Felman said.

For more collaboration coverage, check out Steve Gillmor's Blogosphere.

Although Zone Labs could not immediately point to a reseller with an IM security contract in hand, the company believes the channel will play an increasing role in the field.

That may well come to pass when Check Point Software Technologies' 2,000-plus resellers get up to speed on Zone Labs' IM technology. Check Point completed its acquisition of Zone Labs in March.

Check Point has also just revamped its channel program. "Check Point is further enabling us to build expertise in selling their solutions to our targeted enterprise and high-end customers," Brad Reed, director of Internet security at Miami-based reseller Compuquip Technologies, said in a statement.

"We strongly believe in the quality of Check Point's Perimeter, Internal and Web security solutions," Reed said.

Click here for a column by Steve Gillmor on the future of workplace communications.

NFR Security, meanwhile, plans to launch an IM solution pack for its upcoming intrusion prevention appliance, which is slated for availability in July.

The solution pack will ship in August, said Andre Yee, NFR's president and CEO. The product initially will support AOL IM, but Yee said support for Yahoo and MSN will follow.

Yee said NFR has been shifting to an indirect channel model, adding that resellers and integrators will play a role in moving the company's IM security solution.

When it comes to intrusion prevention and IM security, NFR aims to create "channel-ready" products that can be deployed by partners who don't necessarily specialize in security, he said.

Zone Labs' update of Integrity targets spyware. Click here to read more.

Zone Labs and NFR hope to follow the trail of IM as it penetrates the enterprise market. Osterman Research recently reported that IM systems are employed in 92 percent of all commercial and noncommercial enterprises.

That proliferation has been unregulated for the most part, Yee said. "Most organizations are still playing catch-up with regard to having strong security policies for IM," he said.

IM's security vulnerabilities include the potential for buffer overflow attacks and the harvesting of user names and passwords, security executives said.

For insights on security coverage around the Web, check out eWEEK.com Security Center Editor Larry Seltzer's Weblog.

The market is set for resellers to step up to the plate and help customers plug their IM security gaps.

"I think of [IM security] as a great business opportunity," Yee said. "When there is this level of pain and attention, there's an opportunity for the reseller to step in."

For example, resellers can help customers update their security policies to "accommodate IM and peer-to-peer technologies like Kazaa," Yee said. Another reseller role, he added, will be to evaluate security tools.

In that respect, vendors such as Zone Labs and NFR willingly supply the goods. It's up the resellers to educate themselves on the emerging offerings and decide how they fit into their security practices.

John writes the Contract Watch column and his own column for the Channel Insider.

John has covered the information-technology industry for 15 years, focusing on government issues, systems integrators, resellers and channel activities. Prior to working with Channel Insider, he was an editor at Smart Partner, and a department editor at Federal Computer Week, a newspaper covering federal information technology. At Federal Computer Week, John covered federal contractors and compiled the publication's annual ranking of the market's top 25 integrators. John also was a senior editor in the Washington, D.C., bureau of Computer Systems News.


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