The channel is facing a problem, and it's going to get worse before it gets better. Rumour has it that security is where the easy money is at.
Everyone, including vendors, distributors and analysts, is telling the market that security is the cash cow and if you're in the channel you'd better get involved now.
We have all seen this before - and that's my concern. Cast your mind back to the boom and bust 1990s. Marketing triumphed over engineering, resellers got caught up in the moment and tried to sell technology that they weren't qualified to deal with.
This chuck-and-chance mentality is now starting to creep into the security sector. Increasingly, I am seeing resellers hoping that they can sell security solutions, and acquire knowledge in a nanosecond that specialist competitors took years to learn.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not against VARs moving into new markets, but they must do it with their eyes open and not under the impression that a one-day course will be sufficient.
Selling security is far from easy. You need to really understand the nature of the threat and the cost to the business, as well as design a solution that protects the end-user from today's and tomorrow's security risks. It takes years to do this well.
Distributors with less selective channel programmes will take on 'another reseller' without a moment's thought. Unfortunately, this has the makings of a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Poorly qualified VARs trying to install and manage complex security systems is an easy way to kill a market.
I've heard of distributors claiming to have over 400 reseller accounts all specialising in security. I find that hard to believe, because security is still a niche market.
Naturally, vendors need to sell, and that is what the channel is there to help them do. But is this approach a value-add or simply mad?
It is the latter, in my opinion, and while there are distributors out there that do put resellers through their paces, few really audit their expertise.
Anyone can sell security, but not all can give post-sale care. Companies with extensive expertise in the security market can take clients into this growth area confidently.
The security community needs to accept that it is quality not quantity that will benefit end users. I hope the channel realises this before it is too late.
Alan Bentley is channel manager at Ellipse.
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