Snowflakes are great in nature, but treacherous for channel partners.

Channel Partners

February 10, 2017

3 Min Read
Security Shield

Armor's Daniel MannionBy Daniel Mannion

2016 was exciting, turbulent, surprising and transformational both around the world and in the cybersecurity industry. My team spent a significant amount of time with MSPs throughout the year learning about their businesses, growth opportunities and discussing how we can partner together.

We spoke with a variety of different types of managed service providers, differentiated by their core competencies (infrastructure vs. security, servers vs. clients), as well as where they are focused (on-premises, third-party hosting, public cloud, and/or hybrid installations). Regardless of where an MSP lands, however, we found common behaviors preventing them from building profitable businesses in the security market.

For those operating an MSP, in the spirit of setting New Year’s resolutions that can be kept, here are three common behaviors to avoid in 2017:

  • Treating every customer as a snowflake: Snowflakes are one of a kind, with no two formed the same way. For an MSP, treating customers as if they are each unique, with little standardization, product consistency, or common techniques, results in a death sentence for your business. Consider the full-year chart of SCWX to see what Wall Street thinks of a snowflake MSP business model.

MSPs seeking growth and increased margins must standardize to a set of products and services that can be executed on efficiently, followed by constant innovation to increase customer adds at a faster rate than increasing headcount. In the security market, it’s not only important from a profit perspective, it’s the only way to guarantee customers that an MSP can stand between them and the threat actors out to steal their most sensitive assets.

Join Armor director of strategic alliances Bill Gauthier and 5,500 of your peers at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo for an in-depth education session, Managed Security Services: The Next Opportunity. Best rates end Feb. 27 so register now!

  • Hiding from the security conversation: Many MSPs, including both the traditional and “born-in-the-cloud” varieties, do not consider security to be a core competency. As such, they don’t train sellers on how to help customers address security concerns. This results in stalled projects and lost deals when they have to compete with MSPs that decided to face the security conversation head-on and partner with security specialists.

Not a day goes by that cybersecurity isn’t discussed in major media outlets, online and in boardrooms. Avoiding this important conversation demonstrates that an organization is tone deaf to some of the most critical concerns of CEOs, CFOs and CIOs today.

  • Picking the wrong partner: When holding true to the first two resolutions, it’s incredibly important to pick the right partner to help these new muscles flourish. It will require a commitment from a leadership team and a core team to wade through the 5,000-plus security vendors and the hundreds of managed security service providers (MSSPs) in the market today.

Reduce the aperture by homing in on potential partners that have built standardized, scalable security frameworks and demonstrate willingness to invest in sales enablement and pipeline development with sales and marketing teams.

This year presents an opportunity to capitalize on the overwhelming need for organizations, regardless of size or industry, to strengthen their security postures. The fact is, the need is real and pervasive, and most business leaders have an air of desperation to address cybersecurity. These resolutions can help MSPs be the “champion” in this situation to accelerate growth.

Want more advice from Dan? In a recent Q&A, he weighed in on AWS, Microsoft Azure, shared responsibility for security and more.

Dan Mannion is vice president, partners & alliances at Armor, a cybersecurity company that keeps sensitive, regulated data safe and compliant in the cloud. For more information on partnering, visit

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