Partners: RSA Takes A Page From EMC Playbook

The pressure has many partners wondering if RSA is now taking its channel cues from new owner EMC. RSA parent company EMC picked up EnVision in its September acquisition of Network Intelligence and rolled it into its RSA security division.

Several RSA partners told CRN on condition of anonymity that partners who don't comply are being told they could lose lead distribution and other benefits of being a go-to partner. RSA reps are also suggesting that once partners obtain the training -- which is paid for by RSA -- EnVision should take precedence over offerings from other SIEM vendors, sources said.

One RSA channel partner who asked for anonymity said he makes "substantially higher margin" from products and services through his partnership with another SIEM vendor, and isn't interested in switching.

"RSA is stepping up and providing training for free, but they're also saying they don't want anyone selling competitive products," said the source, who asked not to be named.

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Michael Ross, area vice president for North American channels at RSA, told CRN that RSA is "absolutely not" asking partners for SIEM exclusivity. In fact, RSA has a track record of not pushing for exclusivity in other areas of its business, he said.

"We of course want to have strategic partnerships where our product is the focus. But we do have numerous large resellers who carry multiple authentication products," said Ross.

To get sales authorization for EnVision, partners must have 10 percent of their field sales staff trained, and for technical certification, the required staff training percentage is 5 percent. For both levels, a partner must have a minimum of two trained staff, said Ross.

Pat Grillo, president and CEO of Atrion Communications Resources, a solution provider in Somerville, N.J., said RSA has asked him to get two staff members certified on Network Intelligence in order to be eligible for deal registration.

However, Atrion hasn't done the volume of Network Intelligence business to justify the time investment, said Grillo. "I believe strongly in certification and tying it to deal registration, and I have no problem getting two guys certified if I see a volume of business there," he said.

"But most vendors give you a ramp-up period. To right away ask us to pull billable engineers and put them into classes when the payoff isn't clear is difficult," Grillo said.

When asked if EnVision certification is tied to deal registration, Ross said that RSA will be making an announcement in early May that will illustrate more clearly the benefits for partners of getting trained on EnVision.

"There will be differentiation and specific benefits in the SecurWorld program for partners who are certified on the Envison products," Ross said.

The EnVision course includes pre-sales, proof of concept, implementation, and post-sales training, and RSA refunds the full cost of training to the partner once the staff have completed the course and certification requirements, Ross said.

In addition, RSA is making an effort to condense the four day training program into three days, Ross said.

The training also helps partners by giving them the opportunity to sell their own professional services, Ross said. "Partners are focusing on growing services business, and EnVision is services intensive, but you need to have technical expertise," he said.

SIEM is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the security industry, and the market is expected to grow from nearly $380 million in 2006 to $873 million in 2010, according to IDC. Research from RSA indicates that the SIEM market is currently growing 25 percent to 35 percent annually.