Avnet Unveils Managed Security Offering To Help Partners Protect SMB, Midmarket Customers

Avnet launched a managed security service aimed at boosting partner margins and making solution providers stickier with end users in the health-care and retail verticals.

The Phoenix-based distributor said the new program, called Recon, will make it easy for partners to provide SMB and midmarket customers with intrusion detection, vulnerability assessments, and security incident and event management (SIEM), according to Alex Ryals, vice president of security and networking solutions for Avnet Technology Solutions (TS), Americas.

Recon will cost solution providers roughly $3,500 to $7,000 per month depending on the complexity of their end-user environments, Ryals told CRN. Avnet already has seven partners that have expressed interest in Recon since the distributor began training its internal sales organization on it three weeks ago, Ryals said, and hopes to have 30 partners selling Recon within the next year.

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"This will be something that partners are excited about," Ryals said. "Doors are open, and we're ready for business."

Even though Avnet will handle installation, backup and monitoring for its managed security services offering, Ryals said there's still a good bit of margin baked in for partners. Avnet will not interact with the end user until the contract is signed, Ryals said, and all contractual and financial matters will go through solution providers.

"The customer will pay the partner, and the partner will turn around and pay Avnet," Ryals said.

Avnet today offers SIEM and identity and access management solutions around its security portfolio for IBM, which is the distributor's largest vendor and accounted for 11 percent of its overall sales last year. Recon will give Avnet partners the ability to provide services and support around its 11 other security suppliers, Ryals said, notably Cisco Systems, F5 Networks, Check Point Software Technologies and TippingPoint.

Tech Data's pending $2.6 billion acquisition of Avnet's TS division will create a tremendous opportunity from a security perspective, Ryals said, especially since the Clearwater, Fla.-based distributor today doesn't have a managed security service offering.

"This will be something that they [Tech Data partners] are excited about," Ryals said. "I'm anticipating that we'll be able to grow and accelerate Recon after the acquisition happens."

The distributor initially is targeting Recon at partners that are relatively new with a limited staff or portfolio of offerings, Ryals said. Avnet hopes that giving these partners a way to augment their security service capabilities will also result in them selling more security products to end users.

At the same time, Ryals said Avnet only wants to work with partners that have a C-level initiative behind building a security practice since pre-sales training and sales leader buy-in is necessary for business transformation to occur.

"If there's not a C-level initiative behind it, the transformation typically doesn't happen," Ryals said.

Solution providers can resell the offering either as an Avnet-branded service called Recon or as a white-labeled offering under their own security brand, Ryals said. Recon is available in the U.S. and Canada, he said.

Avnet encourages its partners to lead with a security assessment to better understand the end user's security-related resources and capabilities. Ryals said the distributor offers five complementary security assessments and three paid security assessments to help partners better unlock services opportunities.

Recon is a better fit for SMB or midmarket customers since large, enterprise clients typically have their own internal security team and are therefore less likely to need security-related assistance from outside parties, Ryals said. Customers who have experienced a data breach in the past year are an easier sell, Ryals said, since they already recognize they're vulnerable and are more open to having services bolted on.

Jolly Technologies offers managed security today but is excited by Recon's ability to combine many services into a single offering, said Ryan Jolly, CEO of the Peachtree City, Ga.-based Avnet partner. Jolly said he's also pleased that solution providers can incorporate some of the security services they already have into Recon.

"This sounds like a great new addition from Avnet," Jolly told CRN. "Avnet's offering will be a fantastic new option."