RSA goes after SMB with Authentication Manager Express

RSA - Joe Gabriel

Joe Gabriel, director of worldwide channel marketing at RSA

RSA Security has introduced the RSA Authentication Manager Express, which it says takes the authentication security features of its enterprise and broad consumer offerings down to the SMB market.

The product fits into a niche that RSA traditionally has not served, companies with 2,5000 or fewer users, either internal or external, and borrows both from the company’s enterprise authentication portfolio as well as its consumer-facing solutions employed by major online commerce sites like Etrade.

Dave Taku, principal product manager for RSA, said AMX represents a significant opportunity for channel partners to add to the security solutions they offer, especially because in most instance, the incumbent solution for authentication management is “do nothing.”

“The small and medium-size market has become the new breeding ground for hackers because they’ve been easy pickings,” Taku said. “They’re struggled with securing themselves due to the complexity and expense of it. It’s a growing demand that hasn’t had the right products to fit the market.”

The authentication appliance started at less than $4,000 (U.S.), and is targeted at both companies that have internal authentication needs as well as those that need to authenticate a number of clients or customers. It’s designed to provide “an entry point to providing more than just password security to applications,” said Joe Gabriel, director of worldwide channel marketing at RSA. It’s a need that’s often being driven by increasingly strict regulations around personal data in various markets around the world.

Unlike the enterprise solution, AMX does not use hardware or software token. Users continue to user their familiar username and password, but the system augments it with a “risk-based” system that detects abnormal questions, and challenges users’ identity with personal questions, or even one-time passcodes delivered to verified SMS numbers or e-mail addresses before allowing access to protected appliances.

“SMS and risk-based security are real differentiators for us,” Gabriel said. “These are things our competitors don’t have.”

It’s a new market for RSA, that means potentially bringing on a lot of new channel partners, Gabriel said. He said there will be “a lot of activity from a channel perspective,” and that the company is working with its distribution partners (Arrow, Ingram Micro and Westcon in Canada) to reach out to SMB-focused VARs with which it is not yet engaged.

The product also arrives as EMC prepares to integrate its RSA channel with its storage-focused channel group, with plans in place to add a security specialization under its Velocity channel program by mid-year.

Because it’s an appliance form factor, it’s not a big installation and configuration services opportunity, but Gabriel stressed the opportunity to both go into customers who haven’t adopted strong authentication solutions for any of a variety of reasons, as well as the opportunity to do security assessments that can drive larger engagements.

“This is an excellent addition to their tool bag for security solutions,” he said.

The appliance also represents an opportunity for MSPs to roll out managed authentication services for their clients, he suggested.

RSA’s marketing engine is ramping up around the product launch. Gabriel promised a lot of lead generation activity, and said that the product “will be a keep component” at its RSA Security Conference next month.

In terms of training, sales and technical training are due to be available to partners online by next week, including an hour-long sales training course and an online technical component that takes about 90 minutes.

“Partners with some experience should get up and running in a matter of hours, not days or weeks,” Gabriel said.

Like other RSA products, partners will have access to deal registration, back-end rebates and co-op marketing funds based on their levels in the RSA partner program.

The AMX is due to be available to channel partners by the end of March, the company said.