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CRN Exclusive: Tech Data, Cisco Join Forces for Free Security Assessments

By identifying the potential risks facing end users, the assessments can help partners get past any client concerns and break into new customer pools, geographies and verticals.

Tech Data is teaming up with Cisco Systems to offer free security assessments to end users to help channel partners demonstrate the need for higher-value security solutions.

The Clearwater, Fla.-based distributor said its Cisco security business has grown 15 times faster than its competitors since launching a Managed Security Proof of Value (POV) assessment pilot in September.

By identifying potential security risks and threats facing end users, Tech Data can help partners get past the initial objections raised by clients and break into new customer pools, geographies and verticals, according to Angie Beltz, vice president of Tech Data’s Cisco Solutions Group.

[RELATED: Q&A: Tech Data CEO Talks Ingram-HNA Deal, Blossoming Apple Partnership and Dell-EMC Synergies]

’Historically, security has always been thought of as an add-on or afterthought, not leading the solution,’ Beltz told CRN exclusively.

But that’s all changing thanks to the POV offering, which is available to all Tech Data partners holding a Cisco Express Foundation security certification. In fact, when a solution is proposed to address a specific vulnerability identified in the assessment, Beltz said partners have been able to close the deal more than 90 percent of the time.

The final piece recently added to the POV assessment program are professional services through Signature Technology Group, No. 480 on the 2015 CRN Solution Provider 500, which Tech Data acquired in May. STG often carries out the free, two-week POV assessment on behalf of partners, identifying cybersecurity risks such as malware or bots in end-user ecosystems.

Given the shortage of employees with security proficiency and the cost associated with gaining this expertise, Beltz said many partners need to leverage the sales and technical knowledge of a third party such as Tech Data to participate effectively in the security space.

Once the security assessment has been completed, Tech Data’s security engineers carefully analyze the data and provide customized solutions solution providers can present to their customers. The distributor also gives participating solution providers sales enablement training to help prepare them for security conversations with clients, Beltz said.

Tech Data is tracking the growth and closure rate for the POV assessment program on a weekly basis, Beltz said.

Roughly one-third of Tech Data’s highly engaged Cisco partners have expressed interest in becoming part of the POV assessment program, Beltz said; of that group, about one-third already have taken part in POV work as part of the pilot program. Cisco Premier Certified Partners are eligible for better rebates and additional guidance, Beltz said.

Cisco, San Jose, Calif., has 700 technicians focused exclusively on security, Beltz said, and is continuing to expand its practice.

’Cisco has their eyes on security as it relates to growing out a nationwide practice,’ Charles Layne, president of STG, told CRN.

Solution provider Tiverity has enjoyed a 90 percent closure rate on each completed security POV, and has leveraged the assessment to increase deal sizes and boost firewall sales, according to Jon Doyle, general manager of the Norcross, Ga.-based company.

’Tech Data has been a very supportive partner, helping us build and grow new practices,’ Doyle said in an email.

For Alpha Technologies of Hurricane W.Va., the assessments have enabled it to close more opportunities and expand into different markets by showing customers what is occurring within their networks from a security perspective and what can be done to mitigate future issues, according to company owner and CEO Doug Tate.

’While most clients are concerned about security,’ Tate said in a statement, ’they still find it complex and costly to monitor and manage threats in a proactive way.’

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