In an exclusive interview with CRN, RSA's worldwide director of channels Joe Gabriel (pictured) urged traditional RSA security-only partners to diversify their focus across EMC's portfolio.
Gabriel said although RSA partners would continue to be supported, EMC’s partner strategy was to have specialists across EMC, VMware and Archer because it created more opportunities for secure cloud services.
CRN: How long have you been RSA’s global channel president?
Joe Gabriel: Five or six years with RSA America channel marketing organisation and two and a half years ago I took on a global role. I manage all of the channel programs for RSA globally and coordinate with the regional teams on marketing activities to our partners and through our partners.
CRN: Is each country program different?
JG: We have a global partner program, as do most vendors. What we do in each region we hold though is have partner councils and partner advisory boards where we gather our top partners and ask them what’s working well and what's not working. We take their feedback and we feed that into our program and make our program so the partners want it. As much as we can, we have a global framework and that framework has requirements and benefits and we allow the region to tailor it to meet their needs.
We have three tiers in our program and in order to get to the different tiers you have to have different revenue levels and certain training requirements. In North America we have one set of revenue requirements in Asia Pacific we have a different set of requirements.
In fact this year, based on feedback we got from partners, we created two tiers for Asia Pacific. One tier we define as the growth region (Australia and New Zealand) and the other region is the emerging region. Australia and New Zealand have different set of requirements. This is based on sales, market share and the partner community. We have from a market share perspective those two are by far the most established.
CRN: How should partners focus on the Cloud Trust Authority service? Should they align themselves with VMware, RSA, both?
JG: If I’m a partner and I want to be a trusted adviser to my customers about the cloud – certainly virtualisation and VMware is one piece of that. What we heard [at the RSA Conference 2011] was the trust piece of that or security piece of that. VMware can’t bring that to market that’s where RSA is leading the market. We are providing our partners and customers to secure that journey to the cloud.
One of the unique advantages we have is we’re the only security vendor that has that tight relationship and the ability to integrate our products.
Should VMware partners look to RSA for new business or vice-versa?
JG: Absolutely. There’s a couple of things already clearly with VCE [VMware, Cisco and EMC], RSA plays into that as well because we’re the security component of Vblock. So if I am a VMware partner and not an RSA partner we have a different play that we can take to those partners about securing the virtual desktop or other security things that we can do specifically.
Likewise, if we have partners that are RSA partners and not VMware partners what we’re doing is educating them about the opportunity virtualisation can bring to them.
CRN: If RSA partners don’t diversify will they survive?
JG: Absolutely. There will always be partners that sell security solution providers and won’t take on VMware and won’t take on storage. Certainly those partners will continue to thrive. However, we believe and we want our partners to embrace our entire product portfolio and not just SecureID. The last two years has been a transformation for RSA and for the channel community to help sell more than just SecureID products. And most customers and most partners know us as the token and SecureID company. Our challenge across the globe is to show them otherwise.
CRN: At the opening keynote, Art Coviello acknowledged that some businesses fear cloud is making things "complicated". How will RSA support its partners to specialise across the EMC portfolio – it requires investment that some partners simply can’t afford?
JG: Part of that job as the vendor is education. And it’s providing them the background information, the sales enablement information, the selling tools to be able to articulate what Art (Coviello) said to their customers and talk about the revolution we’re in from an IT or computing point of view.
Second is the identification of where they can go sell these solutions or sales training and then the third is, OK, you’re out selling it now how did the partners deploy it and that’s really where the partners are going to make money because there’s tremendous service opportunities out there for the partners to go sell a cloud security assessment solution.
CRN: Do you still come across partners who ask, what’s cloud?
JG: Absolutely. If I speak globally, yes. Like any product there’s a lifecycle. You start with the early adopters, certainly partners that have embraced virtualisation and know what the cloud is, but those security-only partners or those that may be only the laggards and don't embrace new technologies and don’t truly understand what it means for their customers. That’s where our education comes into it.
CRN: Will RSA limit the number EMC portfolio specialties?
JG: A strategic partner to us is one that will embrace all of our solutions and is able to be their customer’s trusted adviser for this journey to the cloud. And that means be enabled and sell all of our RSA solutions and ideally I think that translates to virtualisation and storage.
CRN: What does the Cloud Trust Authority mean for partners?
JG: We’re in the beta phase at the moment. The intent is that if I’m a cloud service provider and part of the Cloud Trust Authority, when my customer buys an application or puts data through that cloud service provider they know it’s secure.
CRN: Who gets the stamp of approval?
JG: Cloud service providers will be a partner of ours and ideally they will use the set of services that we develop to federate applications together. Meaning that if a customer goes into Salesforce and then goes into a different page they don’t have to log in again. Everything that’s going on in the background has been given that RSA stamp of approval by this trust organisation. It’s the service provider that’s giving that stamp of approval.
CRN: What is driving customers to security technologies such as RSA?
JG: The biggest is compliance. Big or smaller companies where they’ve instiuted a policy they don’t know how to manage it.
Negar Salek attended RSA conference as a guest of the security vendor.