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9 Channel Ops: Auto, Home, Life And Cyber Risk?9 Channel Ops: Auto, Home, Life And Cyber Risk?

This week saw some major moves in networking and security.

Lorna Garey

May 22, 2015

12 Min Read
9 Channel Ops: Auto, Home, Life  And Cyber Risk?

9c63c2a3446b48dc875d48e5cbaf171d.jpgTime Warner started the week rough with an outage, most likely caused by a router error, but ended up being wooed by French telecom holding company Altice, which Reuters says is also in poised to buy Suddenlink Communications. C’est la vie, Comcast.

Auto, Home, Life … and Cyber Risk?

Do you talk to customers about cyber-risk insurance? If not, maybe you should. This week, security vendor FireEye announced a strategic alliance with insurance giant ACE Group. FireEye delivers the threat intelligence expertise to help the insurer assess an organization’s exposure, as well as offering additional services to policyholders, while ACE writes the policy. Other big cyber-risk insurance players include AIG and Prudential.

No matter how much effort and money an org throws at security, there’s no guarantee it won’t still be successfully attacked. Just look at the rise in ransomware, or the fact that this week CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield admitted to a data breach that compromised the personal information of approximately 1.1 million customers. According to security researcher Brian Krebs, it seems that the attack method is similar to that used at Anthem and Premera. So much for learning from peers’ mistakes. Cyber-risk insurance will help cover the costs for breach cleanup, identity monitoring services, legal expenses, customer notification, even damage to the brand. Where trusted advisers can add significant value is in helping customers decide how much coverage they need and reviewing the fine print. Insurers will be happy to make a recommendation on coverage amount, but they are unlikely to understand the nuances of the business as well as a partner does. Consider asking the insurer for a baseline, then working with the customer to analyze intangibles, such as the impact on its own customers and brand reputation. Weigh the monthly costs and any deductibles or default limits on what the insurer will pay for various incidents; consider negotiating retroactive coverage, in case attackers are already in the system, and ask to include systems outside the U.S. if applicable. More on cyber-risk insurance is here.

As part of the FireEye deal, ACE policyholders can purchase four service tiers:

Cyber Threat Education Session: A one-hour session in which FireEye will educate policyholders on why defenses such as firewall and anti-virus are sometimes limited in the detection, prevention and investigation of targeted attacks by threat actors who are politically or financially motivated.

Cyber Strategy Technology Briefing: Using a pre-assessment survey, FireEye will evaluate the policyholder’s ability to detect and respond to an advanced persistent threat, deliver a three-hour briefing on the current threat landscape and provide high-level recommendations on improving incident response plans.

Cyber Threat Health Check: This technology-based assessment provides a more in-depth view of an organization’s security without the use of extensive software deployments, (read: penetration testing lite).

FireEye as a Service: FireEye analysts will act as an extension of the organization’s cyber security team, providing around-the-clock monitoring for indications that an attack has bypassed technology defenses.

FireEye has been on a roll lately, notwithstanding Cisco quashing acquisition rumors, and its partner program offers a range of opportunities for resellers and solutions providers. Dan Wire, FireEye’s director of communications, says the company’s role in this program is helping insurers make informed decisions based on a potential client’s security posture, and that partners interested in learning more about cyber-risk insurance should get in touch.

Plus: News broke this week that 40,000 routers of the SOHO variety were assembled into a bot army to launce DDoS attacks, writes Matt Schwartz in DataBreachToday. The culprit was default usernames and passwords. “One of the network device manufacturers whose products have been targeted says it only sells its devices to consultants and integrators, and that they should know how to secure the devices before rolling them out at customers’ sites,” writes Schwartz. One would think.

Microsoft and the Importance of Being Genuine

Reuters raised some dust in January when it suggested that Microsoft would offer free upgrades to Windows 10 to all Windows users — regardless of whether they’re running genuine copies of the OS. “The move is an unprecedented attempt by Microsoft to get legitimate versions of its software onto machines of the hundreds of millions of Windows users in China,” wrote Reuters’ Bill Rigby and Paul Carsten. “Recent studies show that three-quarters of all PC software is not properly licensed there.”

On Friday, Microsoft stated definitively that this is not the case. “With Windows 10, we have extended an offer to our Genuine Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 customers to upgrade to Windows 10 for free. Once a customer upgrades, they will continue to receive ongoing Windows innovation and security updates for free, for the supported lifetime of that device. These customers purchased their Genuine Windows license from our valued OEM partners, which ensures Windows is properly installed, licensed and not tampered with,” wrote Terry Myerson, executive VP of operating systems, in a blog post. Myerson added that when the company can’t verify that Windows is properly installed, licensed and not tampered with, it will “create a desktop watermark” to notify users and encourage them to return the device to the place of purchase.

“Non-Genuine Windows is not supported by Microsoft or a trusted partner,” Myerson adds, but he goes on to say that there will be special offers available via partners for customers with … let’s say, questionable versions of Windows. It’s not exactly don’t ask, don’t tell, but the message seems to be that a clean Win 10 install is an opportunity to get customer systems into compliance. For partners, every install helps — unlike with XP in 2014, there’s no end-of-life to drive upgrades, and inexpensive “PC on a Stick” devices are likely to cannibalize some sales. Win 10 is available now for members of the Insider program.

Plus: Three Years, 1,500 Office 365 wins, one guy? This week Microsoft profiled a partner who’s enjoyed significant success reselling Office 356 and shared five (very transferrable) principles that comprise the secret to his success.

Measure, Then Move

Cloud solutions provider RapidScale this week added a new discovery service to its portfolio. The CloudDiscovery engine will crawl a customer’s network and report on metrics including number of endpoints, OSes in use, server CPUs and RAM, memory, external storage, VMware details, Active Directory/Group Policy stats and more. The engine will also highlight data dependencies that could cause issues as a service is moved to the cloud. While RapidScale clearly hopes that move will be to its cloud, the discovery tool is available as a stand-alone offering. “We actually have seen a lot of organizations, typically mid-level to enterprise, who just have no idea what they even have in their networks and have used the tool simply to gain an inventory,” says Stefanie Ryan, the company’s marketing director. As an example, a partner could use the tool to discover customer desktops that are still running Windows XP (or unlicensed OSes) or servers lacking a critical patch.

RapidScale has a 100 percent channel-centric sales model; any partner can resell the CloudDiscovery engine, and an MSP may also run and implement the engine in-house. The company is offering a free training course for agents. CloudDiscovery starts at $1,500, as a one-time fee to cover an inventory of up to 1,000 data points. Anything above that incurs an additional cost.

The Kids Are Alright

Deloitte this week debuted analysis of a new survey of nearly 8,000 young professionals across 29 countries that asked millennials for their perspectives on business goals, priorities and what they want in leaders. All survey respondents were born after 1982, hold college degrees and work full-time.

The analysis is well worth a read, and I think it delivers some good news for channel partners. Short version, millennials care little about working for large companies that chase short-term approval from Wall Street. They define an industry-leading company as being committed to treating employees well and making a positive impact on society; among leadership traits, they want to work for people who care about the long-term future of the organization (not just next quarter’s numbers) and invest in employees’ growth and development. They also care about contributing to the health of their communities. As the parent of a millennial, I’d add that they want variety in their work. The upshot for solutions providers looking to hire the best and brightest is to stress the charitable work that so many channel companies do, the diversity in projects and the opportunities for continuing education and training.

6 New Partner Programs With Benefits

Scale Computing sells exclusively through channel partners a line of three appliances to help small and midsize companies unify storage, servers and networking; this week it announced a new deal with Solutions4ebiz. While the concept of hyper-convergence seems complex, done correctly, it can simplify infrastructure setup and scaling and reduce costs. The appliances support Windows and Red Hat and SuSE Linux and use a proprietary hypervisor based on KVM. They also now support VM-level replication; by positioning a second appliance at a remote site, a company could set up continuous data replication. A three-node configuration starts at $25,499 and includes three quad-core CPUs, 96 GB RAM and up to 12 SATA drives. Partner program registration is fairly automated.

Software-defined storage vendor DataCore this week announced that it’s now a Preferred Partner within the Cisco Solution Partner Program. The company, which itself has a wide-ranging partner program, provides storage virtualization and virtual SAN software that complements Cisco’s UCS platform, though the software itself is hardware agnostic — DataCore’s tagline for its SANsymphony and Virtual SAN is “any hypervisor, any storage.” The latest versions support OpenStack’s Cinder block storage spec, enabling partners to extend a unified storage infrastructure to private, hybrid and public clouds built with OpenStack, and new VDI services and tools to automate creation and management of stateful virtual desktops. The platform also works with most major backup products to simplify data protection and recovery.

Cisco also announced this week an update to its UCS partner program. The new SmartPlay Select Program replaces preset bundles of fabric interconnect, chassis, B-Series blades and C-Series rack mount servers with a menu approach, where partners can tailor configurations to customer needs. 

MuleSoft announced this week an additional $128 million in funding led by Salesforce Ventures and including new investor ServiceNow, as well as Cisco Investments and others. MuleSoft’s business is the APIs that link applications, data and devices. Why should you care about APIs? Because they’re how software exchanges information. As AT&T explains in its well-regarded API Partner Exchange program, APIs create connections between business systems, enabling near-instant transmission of data. They’re also fundamental for mobility and the Internet of things. MuleSoft is growing rapidly; in Q1 2015, the company reported record results, with 110 percent new subscription bookings growth year-over-year, with large retailers and financial services companies among its customer base. Its partner program includes OEMS, systems integrators and resellers. To build expertise, you can send staff to MuleSoft.U, which offers free self-paced certification courses.

Ciena announced this week a new Ethernet-based data center interconnect platform called Waveserver that builds on the WaveLogic technology in use by some of the world’s largest Internet and data center providers, including Equinix, Continuum and Digital Realty. Mike Adams, VP of product and technical marketing, says Waveserver is a win for Ciena BizConnect partners. “It will provide them with an option that is simple to order and deploy, and that addresses the key issues facing data center interconnect today,” says Adams. “Additionally, Waveserver will provide our partners will new profitability and customer opportunities as it enables them to address a growing segment of the enterprise, Internet content provider and data center markets.”

Waveserver is aimed at quickly and flexibly interconnecting data centers within a local or metro area using a set of open APIs — reachable remotely via browser — for high-speed data transfer, virtual machine migration and disaster recovery/backup. Ovum, a sister company to Channel Partners, says overall global DCI revenue in 2014 grew more than 16 percent, reaching $2.5 billion, while the Internet content provider segment grew 64 percent year over year. The analyst firm expects overall global revenue to hit $4.2 billion by 2019. As for the Waveserver, it’s got impressive specs in a compact package. “400 Gbps optical uplink. 400Gb Ethernet aggregate to the client side that can be divided 4×100, 10×40 or 40×10, so it’s great for MSPs tapping into carrier DWDM links,” says Channel Partners contributor Kurt Marko. “Plug-and-play installation is impressive for anything that touches a carrier optical network.”

Security provider Quick Heal Technologies this week announced the North American launch of its Quick Heal Authorized Solution Provider Program. The company last month announced U.S. availability of SEQRITE products, which mainly target small to midsize enterprises with five to 5,000 users. The line, sold exclusively through the channel, combines end-point protection, network security and mobile device management for Apple, Windows, iOS and Android  endpoints. The head of the solution provider program, Farokh Karani, has experience at Kaspersky Lab USA, Cyberoam and BullGuard. Karani in a statement promised profit margins of up to 50 percent along with rebates, generous incentives and deal registration and protection.

Finally, GlobalSign this week debuted an enterprise reseller program in in the hot area of identity and access management. GlobalSign’s IAM suite includes SSO, authentication, CRM integration, the company’s PKI/digital certificate solutions, automation technologies and APIs and more. Ophelie Thenault, GlobalSign’s channel marketing manager, told Channel Partners that the enterprise reseller program is designed to expand the company’s channel reach beyond hosting partners to managed solutions providers, ISVs and VARs that target larger enterprises. To serve these providers, Thenault says the enterprise reseller program involves a high level of partner enablement. “It is a comprehensive portfolio of solutions, to include managed PKI and IAM, but also sales and technical training, marketing resources and support services,” she says.

Research firm Markets And Markets recently estimated that the IAM space will expand from $9.16 billion in 2014 to $18.30 billion in 2019, a CAGR of almost 15 percent, with North America expected to deliver most revenue growth. GlobalSign, which is a market leader in Europe, is betting that spending on IAM will be driven by the omnipresent Internet of things, which demands authentication of not just humans but a wide variety of systems, processes and devices.

Follow executive editor @LornaGarey on Twitter.

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