One of the most important factors for a reseller to consider when building out its business is to evaluate and select the technologies they will offer clients and how this will assist them in building both their business and brand in the market. The process should take into account the addressable market, the opportunity, the commitment required and the potential return.
Some questions that can help in qualifying a new technology or partnership might include:
1. Is the technology in demand and relevant to today’s market?
2. Does the solution offer me the opportunity to build an ongoing services business?
3. Are the margins on products enough to support my investment in the solution?
4. Do I feel supported in my investment and can I see a sustainable business in the future?
You might want to take a holistic view of the IT market over the last few years to understand what the developing trends are and which sub-sectors are growing the fastest, and therefore provide good opportunity to grow the business within that sub-sector.
The standout sectors showing phenomenal growth are clearly storage, virtualisation, and security.
The volume of data that businesses work with today and need access to at any time continues to drive the growth of the storage sector, along with the adoption of external data centre models for disaster recovery and business continuity.
Virtualisation, which allows businesses to drive down costs by leveraging existing investments in hardware and other technical resources, is also experiencing significant growth in ANZ.
Lastly, and probably most importantly, security is of critical importance to many businesses, not only to protect their existing networks, but also when considering virtualisation and storage solutions for the growing mobile and global workforce.
Let’s take a closer look at the security market, which has primarily been driven by the need for businesses to protect their networks when connecting to the internet. Over the years we saw an increase in the use of firewalls to provide this layer of protection. However, pure firewall technology has now been superseded by UTM/XTM products that not only provide packet filtering for traffic coming in and out of the network but can also scan content for viruses, block spam or unwanted website activity, protect with intrusion prevention technology, and more recently provide controls for applications such as Facebook and YouTube.
If you then add the impact of the GFC in New Zealand to this mix, you can see that the priority for many businesses is to drive down costs, while maintaining normal flow of business, or even providing flexibility to scale up or down if needed. At a very basic level the benefits offered by UTM/XTM allow local businesses to secure their networks with one solution rather than many different technologies with different platforms and interfaces to manage. This also drives down their initial capital investment, simplifies their annual licensing costs, and minimises their ongoing maintenance.
Choosing the right security solution then becomes a process of thinking about which solution to work with and which vendor understands your business best and suits the needs of your customers.
When it comes to choosing the right security solutions for SMBs, it becomes clear that UTM/XTM is definitely a growing market, and these solutions provide NZ businesses with a technology that is not only in demand but delivers real cost savings while addressing multiple security needs.
As a reseller, consider these questions when looking at a security solution’s relevance to the market you serve:
1. Is the product easy to use?
2. Does the solution use best-of-breed technologies for customers’ security, or are they trying to be everything to everyone?
3. Does the vendor provide a solution that can scale with your customers needs without requiring substantial re-investment in hardware?
4. Is the vendor willing to support your investment in their technology with a sound partnering program offering training, support and lead development?
A clear understanding of security provides the resellers with an opportunity to be elevated to ‘preferred trusted advisor’ rather than being merely a technical provider. A WatchGuard partner experienced this change in status last year to their benefit. WatchGuard uncovered an opportunity with a large school that wanted to discard their multi-vendor platform in favour of a simplified UTM/XTM solution. WatchGuard introduced its channel partner to the customer, and they quickly became integrated with the customer’s entire network as well as infrastructure design and implementation, winning a multi-year, six figure support contract – all from a $20,000 WatchGuard UTM/XTM evaluation.
Scott Robertson is Asia Pacific vice president for WatchGuard.