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Sizing Up the Zero Trust Opportunity for the MSP Market

Appgate explains how a zero-trust approach can help customers meet their security needs.

October 9, 2021

5 Min Read
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By Tina Gravel

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Tina Gravel

The topic of Zero Trust is one that many in the channel want to discuss, yet questions still arise about it: Does Zero Trust refer to a specific set of technologies or is it a reference architecture? Are companies actually deploying it? And of course, what kind of opportunity does Zero Trust represent for channel partners to grow their business?

One thing most of us can agree on is that it’s a big opportunity and getting bigger every year. According to one analyst forecast, the global Zero Trust security market size is projected to grow from $19.6 billion in 2020 to $51.6 billion by 2026, which amounts to a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17.4%.

For channel partners – especially MSPs and MSSPs – selling Zero Trust solutions not only promises to boost their bottom line, it also represents a rare opportunity for them to differentiate themselves from their competitors and more importantly, to become a valued and strategic partner to their customers over the long haul.

The Blurring of the Network Perimeter

On its face, the notion of Zero Trust is a simple and straightforward concept – to eliminate the assumption of trust within a network. Whereas the Internet was originally constructed around the precept of ‘trust then verify’, a Zero Trust approach flips this model on its head, requiring that anything and everything that enters the network should be challenged.

With employees and contractors increasingly logging in from unknown remote locations using dozens of SaaS applications daily, the notion of a well-defined and secured network perimeter in which your users, applications and data can be cordoned off from the outside world is neither realistic or pragmatic.

As Dr. Chase Cunningham, one of the original proponents of Zero Trust explains, “what happened is that with the explosion of the online world being the area we all live and breathe, speed to revenue outpaced planning and strategy for security and we all collectively created this giant interconnected network of weakness – and we built the whole thing where the password is the one lynchpin in almost everything. For nearly half a century we have been clawing at gaining ground here, but it’s all been for naught because speed trumps strategy in security and tools trump tactics.”

This is the fine line that the enterprise is hoping to balance as they look to modernize their approach to network access: how do you provide the frictionless access users demand without introducing unnecessary risk to your network environment? Unlike the conventional castle-and-moat approach that prioritizes the defense of the network perimeter while assuming that everything inside didn’t pose a threat, Zero Trust demands that everything that connects to a company’s infrastructure – whether it’s a device, a document, or a person, should be regarded as untrustworthy, until proven otherwise. And, it must be performed consistently, continuously, and pervasively.

Zero Trust: 3 Strategic Opportunities for the Channel

A survey conducted by Forrester Research found that CISOs allocate the highest portion of their time dedicated to strategy and planning initiatives. Given that Zero Trust is considered among the most strategic of IT initiatives, it provides a natural opening for channel partners to engage their clients and kickstart a meaningful dialogue – a conversation that can not only generate new sales opportunities but can also help cultivate a more strategic and valued long-term relationship.

1. Sell Differentiated Solutions, Not Commodity Services

Because the market for Zero Trust solutions is already crowded and encompasses a broad swath of technology solutions, channel partners can add immediate value by helping their customers navigate this fast-evolving landscape. Armed with the right portfolio of Zero Trust-enabled technologies and a well-trained staff, a channel provider will be better positioned to build and sell tailored Zero Trust solutions that can address the specific pain points of their customers and in turn, effectively differentiate themselves in a crowded market. This can be an especially effective strategy for those channel providers that focus on selling to specific industry verticals such as healthcare, financial services, and government where complex data privacy regulations will require all manner of expert assistance.

2. Zero Trust Solutions Generate Diverse & Healthy Profit Margins

Like other major strategic initiatives, getting to Zero Trust is a journey that will often take years, not months. By its very nature, Zero Trust touches practically every aspect and function of a business and because of its wide berth, it can expose the channel partner to new sales opportunities that they might otherwise not have been privy to. Channel partners are also learning that adding Zero Trust solutions to their portfolio can be significantly more profitable — our analysis shows that these offerings often produce additional sell-through opportunities that  yield above average margins of between 20-22%.

3. Zero Trust Prepares You and Your Customers for the Unknown

As the past couple of years have shown us, threat actors are an adaptive and resourceful bunch. These days, ransomware operators have upped the ante with new tactics such as “double extortion” in which they not only encrypt as many network resources as possible but also exfiltrate and threaten to leak a victim organization’s sensitive data in order to exert greater pressure. Even the most robust disaster recovery system will do little to address this type of compromise. While a Zero Trust solution won’t necessarily prevent every type of attack, by cloaking the network and continuously validating each user and their device, the scope and scale of such an attack can be significantly limited.

Clearly the effects of the pandemic will continue to be felt for some time and that will have an obvious impact on the channel’s ability to sell cybersecurity services in general and threat protection solutions specifically. The goal for channel partners however remains the same as it did even before the pandemic changed our world: always start by listening to your customers so you can best help them identify their threat protection gaps and then educate them as to why and how a Zero Trust approach can help them meet both their immediate and future needs.

Click here to learn more about Appgate and its Channel Partner Program.

Click here to download a complimentary copy of the Forrester New Wave, Zero Trust Network Access, Q3 2021 Report.

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