RSA Channel Chief: Recent Cutbacks Didn't Impact Channel Organization

RSA, The Security Division of EMC, is boosting investment in its channel program this year as more professional and managed services partners come on board for its security analytics, and governance, risk and compliance platform.

In an interview with CRN, William Taylor, vice president of channels and alliances at RSA, said the company’s SecurWorld Partner Program continues to thrive in part because of a focus on streamlining and modernizing back-end systems and the channel organization's emphasis on training and certifications. Recent cutbacks at RSA did not impact the channel organization, Taylor said, adding that RSA’s investment in the channel increases every year tied to infrastructure improvements, rebates and incentives.

’We didn’t take anyone out of inside sales or the channel,’ Taylor said. ’It was part of a realignment to meet this year’s goals and, like anything else, we always invest in the areas that I think we can make a return on.’

[Related: EMC Restructures RSA; Coviello Says Split From EMC Federation Unlikely]

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EMC’s fiscal fourth-quarter earnings for the period ended Jan. 29 revealed RSA revenue grew 4 percent in EMC’s fourth quarter. The RSA security division is up more than 5 percent for the full fiscal year with revenue at $1.04 billion, driven in part by sales of governance, risk and compliance (GRC) software, security analytics and risk-based identity management tools.

Taylor said the GRC space has seen more than 100 percent growth with some of it tied to large enterprise investments into RSA’s security operations center strategy, which includes security analytics and security information event management platforms. RSA has added training and is guiding partners through a technical enablement framework to get them up to speed with increasingly sophisticated product components in its portfolio, Taylor said.

’Any time you adapt into more sophisticated technologies and more complicated deliverables, the customer needs to feel comfortable with the partner,’ Taylor said. ’We’re focusing on training and identifying stronger delivery capabilities to help those partners keep strong ties with their clients.’

RSA has been successful in transitioning some longtime EnVision security information event management customers over to its on-premise Security Analytics platform that combines SIEM capabilities with network packet analysis and analysis. Taylor said the company also has had success competing with industry heavyweights, including Hewlett-Packard and IBM, which have built out their SIEM platforms with a heavier analytics capabilities to detect advanced threats.

Organizations are looking for new ways to address advanced threats without adding complexity, said Nate Couture, chief technology officer at Huntington, Vt.-based security consultancy NuHarbor, an RSA partner that specializes in the company’s Archer GRC platform. NuHarbor conducts risk assessments and works with clients in tailoring security investments to get the value out of existing infrastructure while reducing the attack surface. The company has at least one large federal contract with RSA and does a mixture of public and private sector business, Couture said.

’We have had a solid relationship with RSA and we continue to get interest in our GRC work,’ Couture said. ’The accepted and established methods associated with security is losing its glow and it’s partially because of the laundry list of breaches that have fostered the perception of what we’ve been doing as an industry isn’t working.’

One of RSA’s broad initiatives is to speed how quickly customers gain value out of their initial investments, Taylor said. The quicker a customer gets value out of an initial investment, the faster they gain the ability to spend more money, he said. The initiative will place an emphasis on partners with strong professional security services.

’We think the partners give us more scale and capability, and if we want to grow the company we need to focus more on products and sales than on professional services,’ Taylor said.