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While cloud computing and its related services are among the hottest topics in the IT industry, the CEO of CloudPassage is calling on channel partners to help their customers better understand the security ramifications.
“I think there's a pretty big learning curve for the channel," Carson Sweet, CloudPassage's CEO, told CRN. "The cloud providers are feeling the pain but they don't know what to do about it. The more traditional channels are not quite there yet, for the most part. A lot of the security VARs and networking VARs and integrators are still looking at things through a very enterprise-oriented line. They look at cloud in the context of virtualization. And while cloud is an iteration of virtualization, it's really quite different. And it's been a bit of a challenge for us to find partners who actually get it well enough to be able to sell our product."
However, Sweet feels that the problem isn’t as much about partners making poor decisions, so much as it is about a lack of action.
“It's not that they're making the wrong turns, they're not making any turns at all,” he added. "They need to study the security SLAs of the various cloud providers with whom they work. When the customer comes to you and says we want you to help us get to the cloud, you need to understand the responsibilities of the provider versus your responsibilities as the channel partner, as it relates to security. And that's one of the key things that the customers need the channel to help them with, or else they end up scrambling to fix the situation on the backend."
Sweet recommends that channel partners begin with mock deployments with preferred cloud services providers before ever attempting to roll it out to their customers. He says that sales engineers typically need to get some experience with the cloud in order to develop the necessary knowledge base to drive customer satisfaction.
"We find that a great number of customers are not adequately secured," he said. "In many cases, the companies do not realize that they are responsible for a lot of their security footing. There is an assumption that the cloud provider does a lot more than they really are in a position to do. The cloud provider is not able to take responsibility for full-on security of the servers. It's kind of like an apartment building where the landlord takes on responsibility for the common areas, but once they hand you the key to the front door, you're responsible for whatever happens inside that apartment. It's very similar for cloud virtual machine."