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

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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.

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