Steep Climb Ahead for TrustMark

By Lawrence Walsh  |  Print this article Print


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CompTIA's new TrustMark security accreditation aims to provide solution providers with a marketing differentiator. It's a good idea, but is it ready for prime time?


The intent of this accreditation is to give security solution providers a marketing tool that differentiates them from the competition. In other words, if you have a TrustMark plaque in your lobby and your competitor down the street doesn't, you'll win more business. It's an interesting theory, but several things must happen for this to work well.

First, CompTIA needs to provide a greater level of integrity for the accreditation process. Its organizers admit that they've automated as much of the process as possible, but there's still a human element that must interact with these solution providers and ensure that they are what they say they are and have the best practices that reflect value in the marketplace.

Defining what "accreditation" means to both the solution provider and the end user will be tricky and necessary. TrustMark is not a certification, which means CompTIA is making no guarantees about a solution provider's technical competencies, capacities or service quality. And it's an accreditation not of a solution provider's record in delivering security products and services, but of its own internal practices. These are important distinctions, since the end user will tend to read too much into the meaning and, potentially, assign it the same value as a Better Business Bureau rating or Underwriters Laboratories test.

TrustMark is new and will require several degrees of critical mass to work. CompTIA will have to work hard to get enough solution providers to accept the accreditation to make it meaningful in the channel community. Ultimately, though, it's the acceptance of end users that will make the real difference. Putting another seal on a proposal won't make much difference to customers if they don't recognize TrustMark as a symbol of value and integrity. 

The CISSP is a vaunted certification because the industry, as a whole, has accepted the rigid process for becoming a CISSP and that it truly reflects superior knowledge and practices by the individual practitioners. TrustMark will need that same level of acceptance for it to make a difference in the marketplace, and that will require CompTIA and its supporting vendors and solution providers to undertake extensive brand marketing. That's a very expensive and protracted proposition. Early adopters may not find TrustMark to be a marketing differentiator for some time.

Overall, TrustMark is a pretty good concept and CompTIA is one of the best candidates in the channel to make an organization security accreditation possible. Considering that security remains the hottest and most profitable technology in the channel, according to Channel Insider research, having an accreditation could help solution providers seal more and bigger deals. 

CompTIA knows it has a steep climb ahead to make TrustMark seen as a trustworthy, viable and compelling accreditation by both solution providers and end users. On this foundation, it's possible the day may come when all security solution providers will have to have TrustMark on the letterhead.

Lawrence M. Walsh is vice president and group publisher of Channel Insider. He can be reached at lawrence.walsh@ziffdavisenterprise.com.

Lawrence Walsh Lawrence Walsh is editor of Baseline magazine, overseeing print and online editorial content and the strategic direction of the publication. He is also a regular columnist for Ziff Davis Enterprise's Channel Insider. Mr. Walsh is well versed in IT technology and issues, and he is an expert in IT security technologies and policies, managed services, business intelligence software and IT reseller channels. An award-winning journalist, Mr. Walsh has served as editor of CMP Technology's VARBusiness and GovernmentVAR magazines, and TechTarget's Information Security magazine. He has written hundreds of articles, analyses and commentaries on the development of reseller businesses, the IT marketplace and managed services, as well as information security policy, strategy and technology. Prior to his magazine career, Mr. Walsh was a newspaper editor and reporter, having held editorial positions at the Boston Globe, MetroWest Daily News, Brockton Enterprise and Community Newspaper Company.

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