Intel Exec Tells Partners Missed Security Services Opportunity 'Criminal'

Far too many Intel Security partners are selling products without services, squandering away opportunity at a time when customer demand for security services is on the rise, according to Intel Security Channel Chief Gavin Struthers.

The Intel Security executive kicked off the company's Partner Alliance Summit Monday when he spoke to hundreds of partners at the Sands Expo Center in Las Vegas.

Less than 5 percent of Intel Security's revenue is in professional services, according to Struthers, at a time when the services market is growing faster than the market for products. The company also has up to a six-week wait time to deliver certain products to customers because it doesn't have enough partners able to provide the professional services necessary to carry out the deal, he said.

[Related: MSSPs Find Advanced Threat Services, Incident Response Tied To Log Analysis]

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"It is criminal that we are allowing 80 percent of our products to walk out the door without any services attached," Struthers said. "We need to develop and hone a services model."

The combination of integration and consulting services results in up to 20 percent services attach rates for products, Struthers said. Partners that deliver a mixture of managed and professional services can have a business discussion in how to address customer pain and ultimately deliver a successful outcome, he said.

"Customers are consolidating their vendors and looking for one throat to choke," Struthers said. "We need to heed the warning."

Struthers urged partners to build out their deployment services and consider establishing threat assessment, architectural assessment capabilities to their portfolio. Incident response and forensics is one of the fastest growing areas, he said, and recommended partners either establish the services by acquiring talented firms or hiring expertise.

About 80 percent of Intel Security's revenue flows through the channel. The company had 50 deals that were more than $1 million last quarter with security information event management and next-generation firewall growing significantly, Struthers said.

Partners told CRN the message is important to all partners and especially paramount to resellers that aren't adjusting to a services delivery model. About a third of all Intel Security partners are pure resellers, Struthers told CRN in an interview last week.

Partners should be selling between 10 percent and 20 percent on implementation and design services on every technology dollar, excluding the consulting assessment and incident response services, Struthers said.

NEXT: Addressing Market Demand

Organizations are demanding more visibility into what is happening on their network at every level, said Mark Behan, director of the security business unit at Dimension Data, which uses McAfee to deliver its managed security services. Organizations over time have built up layers of security infrastructure and organizations are trying to reduce the complexity by using professional services to help create a more efficient architecture, Behan said. Managed services help them tap into experts to get more out of what they have, Behan said.

"Everyone is moving away from the reseller model at this point and expanding their services because the market is demanding it," Behan said.

The newly shaped products and services will fall into endpoint security, network security and security management competency areas. The changes align the products into large total addressable market opportunities.

In addition, Intel Security is making adjustments to its channel program to ease overlapping training requirements for managed service providers under the program. The company is integrating its Managed Services Provider Program into its security management competency area. The Managed Services Specialization will be available in January and streamlines requirements.

In a move that mainly impacts Elite Partners under the program, baseline certifications are removed and more flexibility has been built in to earn credits for training that is relevant to the products partners sell.

A support specialization is also being rolled out that integrates the current McAfee Authorized Support Provider Program under a support specialization. A new service delivery specialization will also be available in the second half of 2015 and focus on implementation services. It uses the CMSS certification as a core requirement, the company said.

All large vendors are seizing the opportunity to push into managed and professional services, said Edward Ferrara, a principle research analyst at Forrester Research. Ferrara said the security industry is seeing a merging of services and product companies. Security products need a good practitioner behind them, he said.

Fortinet and Check Point each have cited the expansion of the managed services market as fueling security appliance sales.

The security industry is seeing a merging of services and product companies in addition to acquisition, Ferrara said. More partnerships are likely as larger security vendors see the need to provide customers with strong professional services, he added.

"Some of these offerings demand good people who can look at net flow and syslog data and understand what the malware does and how it works and then put it all together and say this is a threat," Ferrara said. "This is rare and companies are struggling to find people."