Symplified CEO to Credit Suisse: Channel 'Brokerage,' Security Are Where Cloud Shines


Addressing a Credit Suisse conference on disruptive technologies, the CEO of Symplified, a Boulder, Colo.-based identity management company, is pointing toward cloud security as the key to the future of Information Technology.

"Data used to be in a fortress that was more easily defended than the current situation where data and applications are spread all over the place," said Eric Olden. "This creates a totally different access management model because you can no longer rely on a central point of control. The BYOD phenomenon has completely disrupted the way that IT works and thinks about endpoints because oftentimes the devices do not belong to the company."

Olden points to the providers of various cloud services as the natural points from which to establish security. “It’ll be similar to what happened with email spam,” he said. “Providers like Postini began doing spam filtering, which effectively and efficiently reduced the problem. I think it's that same kind of model that will make identity in the cloud work because it doesn't require anything installed on the desktop or changes to be made on a personal device. Security in the cloud is the best option because as people begin using cloud-based applications, security will need to be managed in the cloud, and not on a one-to-one basis.”

[Related: How to Maintain Security in a BYOD World]

While he acknowledges that expertise in cloud-based security is not widespread, he believes the nature of the cloud mitigates that problem at least somewhat. “One of the best things about using the cloud is that you don't need to be an expert,” he added. "People don't necessarily need to understand how it’s delivered; they just wanted to drink the water. And, that is where the cloud shines.”

According to Olden, the cloud will force the channel to evolve into more of a brokerage model in which the partners help their customers select cloud offerings that best suit their circumstances, and it may come from a variety of cloud service providers.

“The channel has a very real fear of being disintermediated,” he explained. “The emphasis needs to turn towards integrating all these pieces and bringing together a better management experience. As a VAR or an integrator, you should be making sure that you are able to function as a one-stop shop where you bring together a variety of capabilities and then integrate them for your customer.

However, shying away from the cloud isn’t the answer, Olden says.

“What doesn't work is telling your customers that the cloud is not a good fit for them. It's sometimes tempting for partners to do that because they are used to working in a certain way. But the market is changing and the buyers are seeing it whenever they go on to the Internet. They see salesforce.com accessible via a credit card, and there's a credibility issue that could be happen if they trusted advisor recommends they not use the cloud because that advisor tells them the cloud is not ready for prime time. You either fight it and lose or figure it out and win.”

PUBLISHED JUNE 28, 2012