Intel reaches out to non-traditional VARs in security space

Harrison Li Intel

Intel's Harrison Li

VARs need to pay more attention to the vast changes taking place in the security market.

That was the message Intel emphasized at the 2010 Intel SMB Security Conference, held Monday in Toronto, one of a series of events Intel is hosting to reach out beyond its traditional partner base to the general VAR community, to educate them about the complex and changing nature of the security space, and why it matters to them.

“Our goal is to help the channel understand the technologies available to them,” said Harrison Li, global small business marketing manager for the channel at Intel. “There are a lot of pieces –embedded, storage, mobile — and we don’t always make it easy for partners to implement those technologies.”

About 110 partners were registered for the event, which is the first step in a pilot program Intel is undertaking.

“These events are being held in a few cities in the U.S., here in Toronto, and in the Far East,” Li said. “We are trying these events out, and will gauge from the response and surveys if partners will find these valuable.”

Li said that the goal of the event was to bring partners together to let them see all the pieces in action, see how they can be positioned, and craft the right security plan for their practice. His presentation noted Intel’s security presence in storage, servers, desktop, mobile, encryption and digital surveillance — the latter through Intel’s embedded technologies. His presentation also indicated that some of these areas are not top of mind to many VARs. Only two people in the audience raised their hands when asked if their own notebooks were encrypted.

Li emphasized that their target audience went well beyond the systems integrators and system builders who historically have made up much of Intel’s channel.

“We are reaching out to VARs who don’t do those things,” he said. “We are expanding into VARs who are more comfortable buying branded hardware systems. We want them to know what we can do for them. “Moreover, they aren’t just speaking specifically to VARs whose practices are security-focused.

Li said that security today is about comprehensive risk reduction in a more complex world, not about hardware or software.

“It’s the complexity of the devices,” he said. “How do you make sure your car doesn’t get a  virus from your handheld.”

Security has gotten more complex across the board in the last five years, Li said. Not only have threats grown exponentially in number, but social media has opened new threat paths, increased mobility has increased loss risk, and more data is leaving the four walls of a company. All this opens an incredible opportunity in the SMB space, with over $4 billion forecast in Canada for its 2011 hardware spend and over one billion in security software and services.

The channel is critical to this SMB opportunity because most of these companies are at the low end of the spectrum  — with 68 per cent having 1-4 employees, 16 per cent 5 to 9, 8 per cent 10 to 19 employees, 6 per cent 20 to 49 and only 2 per cent in the 50-99 employee range.  And 48.4 per cent of those purchase through a VAR.

“This is a call to action,” Li said. “You need to be selling business risk reduction, not hardware and software. And you need to let us know what we can do to help you.”