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Threats can be opportunities

01 Oct 06

Unified threat management, or UTM as it has become known, has generated a lot of attention in the market as the ‘new’ panacea to address the increasing sophistication of security attacks. Whilst UTM has received a lot of attention there is still much uncertainty as to what UTM actually is, what technologies it encompasses and what the potential opportunities are for providing UTM solutions to the local market.

According to Scott McKinnel, country manager Australia and New Zealand for Check Point Software, UTM is not a brand new solution as such. “To put it most simply, UTM is the morphing of the firewall, through its amalgamation with other security technologies, in order to better address the increasing number of complex and blended threats facing both large and smaller organisations.  When thinking about UTM, picture a team approach where all the security components are integrated and work together to deliver top-notch protection that is second to none.”

Check Point’s UTM solution has really been designed to simplify security technology so that it is easier for business partners to understand and sell.  UTM is also about making it easier for customers to choose a security solution that is simple to deploy and manage.

“The concept of a firewall has been around for many years now and is generally well understood by business, although occasionally it is quite misunderstood,” says McKinnel. “Being a relatively new concept, there are minimal preconceived ideas on UTM and it is not so well understood.  This, in itself, creates an opportunity for resellers to get in front of both existing and potential customers to explain the UTM concept.” 

As an emerging market, UTM solutions from Check Point tend to attract higher sales margins and Check Point offers incentives and rebates in certain instances.  Once a reseller has approached a customer to discuss UTM, they need to ensure they can demonstrate an understanding and awareness of the entire security landscape; from risk management and compliance right through to authentication and event correlation.  They must also understand a customer’s needs, as customers themselves are often not fully aware of the threats they face and how those threats can be addressed.  “Selling security is about building a customer relationship where trust is the critical element,” says McKinnel.   Check Point is committed to providing continuing education to channel partners in New Zealand and regularly holds workshops and seminars with visiting engineers and international specialists to help build a knowledge base that helps resellers build trust with their customers.

For those resellers who don’t want to build a specialty security practice but want the flexibility of offering a security solution when the need arises, Check Point’s UTM offering simplifies and reduces the need for knowledge of multiple security products.   Furthering their commitment to channel partners, Check Point has recently announced the Cooperative Enterprise Support (CES) program to encourage collaboration between key partners, customers and Check Point to implement, update and maintain a customer’s security environment.   The program has been developed to ensure that customer service delivery can be consistently delivered ahead of customer expectations.

UTM is not only simplifying security from the reseller perspective.  With the advent of UTM devices, network administrators are moving from disparate point solutions for integrated tools that tackle tasks such as firewall, intrusion detection, antivirus and VPN connectivity.  The benefits of a single vendor solution include economies of scale, a common update regime, centralised and simplified management and reporting as well as a consistent philosophy to threat management.  For customers in the mid-market, UTM is likely to take the shape of an appliance that houses a range of security technology that can simply and cost effectively protect from blended threats.  However for larger organisations UTM is about taking an architectural framework approach to address blended threats.

By using fewer suppliers organisations are inherently more dependent on a particular vendors approach to dealing with threats.  In Check Point’s case, its protocol-based approach to threats puts it in a better position to deal with new and emerging threats.  But still many large corporations are uncomfortable with the commitment required to deal with one primary security vendor.  By discussing Check Point’s track record, breadth of security offerings, research and development initiatives and reputation for customer satisfaction, resellers may find this helps alleviate any concerns.

Resellers will find the overriding benefits of UTM will be best understood by customers when they take the time to explain the major security threats that could impact a customers business and the probability and consequences of such attacks occurring.  Customers are then able to make informed decisions about risk mitigation.

Check Point’s UTM solutions offer a simplified opportunity for resellers to address the changing needs of large corporations.  For those resellers that are prepared to tackle this emerging market and dedicate some effort to education and positioning of UTM with their customers, the rewards will be plentiful.

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