RSA: New Technology Focus Means New Skill Sets For Partners

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RSA's growing security portfolio has benefited partners with strong security consultancies, said Joseph Cordaro, a senior security architect at Dallas-based security firm Critical Start. Cordaro said Critical Start partners with more than a dozen security vendors and has five sales engineers and five engineers on its technical team.

Businesses are interested in antimalware technologies, security analytics and packet-capturing technology to identify and contain threats on the network, he said. "We typically partner with best-of-breed solutions that solve more complex problems, and that is where RSA does a good job," Cordaro said.

RSA margins are on par with the rest of the industry, he said. A better partner portal easing access to documentation and other materials will help the channel, Cordaro said.

RSA has started retooling its SecurWorld Academy training program to focus on deeper dives into product disciplines. New online video training modules are followed up with a face-to-face discussion -- called whiteboard sessions --with RSA system engineers, who use the time to evaluate partners on their skills and commitment to the product road map. Once approved, system engineeers and partners then go on joint sales calls. RSA also gives approved partners free demo equipment for training and sales engagements.

Profiling by RSA ensures that the right partners are trained in the right product disciplines, Taylor said. Partners need to have experience with adjacent technologies and have skilled and committed staff.

"If you are going to go into the security analytics space, we want to make sure that you understand that there is going to be some forensics expertise that you either need to have or train up on," Taylor said. "You need to have knowledge of networking infrastructure and be willing to invest in this space because this isn't something you can just jump into overnight; it's a complicated technology."

Marketing plans also have been more closely aligned with a partner's specific product expertise. Asset guides give partners a menu of campaigns they can choose from based on the type of marketing they like to do -- from advertising to call blitzes to field marketing events. Recent marketing programs have focused on security analytics, authentication and risk management products, and RSA has said that Silver Tail and Aveksa are being rolled into campaigns as well.

Taylor said RSA also works with distributors Ingram Micro, Arrow Electronics and Avnet to align marketing campaigns with partners. Distributors are given passes to give out to partners to attend the RSA TechFest event.

Arrow has been growing its relationship with RSA for four years, building out a channel development team around the company's portfolio. RSA's expanding product line requires the vendor to provide more support to partners, said Jared Tobiasen, business development manager at Arrow. RSA's secure token business accounts for half of its revenue, while its other products make up the rest and are growing.

"It's a complex security line and that means it requires us to get as much technical assistance as partners can get," Tobiasen said. "RSA spends a lot of time educating partners about threats instead of trying to shove product documentation down their throats; they know you have to have a larger conversation about security."

NEXT: One Partner Sees Room For Improvement

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