If VARs are going to become motivated by any segment of IT, LAN security appears to be the next big thing. Analysts worldwide predict that the $15bn-a-year switching market will undergo a significant transition, as enterprises move from buying connectivity to securing users.
Most company networks are hard on the outside but very soft on the inside. If this was not troubling enough, disgruntled employees, growing mobile workforces, extending LAN access for office visitors or contractors and the proliferation of mobile devices are all undermining the existence of network perimeters. Chief information officers have even established The Jericho Forum. This is an influential lobby group that is centred on the nascent issue of deperimeterisation and its impending effects.
The response from the major networking vendors has been to invest millions in developing and market-ing their own specific, proprietary approaches to network access control, the self-defending network and many other colourful, engaging monikers for the same thing.
The quandary for each reseller is to what degree they should tie themselves in to their vendor partner’s secure LAN strategy. For example, Cisco resellers should know that its secure LAN strategy amounts to what a neurosurgeon might describe as ‘invasive therapy’. Rather than educating existing grey cells with some added intelligence, the strategy is to scoop out the entire brain and substitute it with a new one. But there is an alternative to this full frontal lobotomy approach that is cheaper, less disruptive and more effective. It establishes greater intelligence in the heart of the network, greater visibility of user behaviour and a self-policing way of eliminating malware threats.
On the one hand, VARs could choose to put their hope in enterprise customers that wilfully allow them to rip out and replace their entire network infrastructures for a purchase order the size of Luxembourg. Or VARs could find real glory and fortune with a more intelligent approach; one that is easier to sell and more strategically valuable to their own business, because it does not assume allegiance to any particular networking vendor. A switch-vendor agnostic position is quite an effective way of poaching customers, especially when their only other option is to drop-kick 10 years of LAN infrastructure investment into the nearest skip.
The secure LAN market is indeed full of promise, but resellers must consider their alternatives before charging towards the opportunity. It’s the intelligent thing to do.
Dean Hickman-Smith is vice-president of worldwide sales at ConSentry Networks.
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