Great timing, say analysts
Industry watchers said that the timing of Microsofts push into the security channel is nearly perfect, as many resellers are already re-examining their product offerings and evaluating which vendors will drive the most sales to customers in the coming years. The major question revolving around the SSA program, and sales of Microsofts security products in general, appears to be when, not if, companies will move to offer those technologies, said Tiffani Bova, analyst with Gartner of Stamford, Conn."I think its more of a question of whether they will move to embrace the products quickly or take a wait-and-see approach." Whether the channel partners that jump on board immediately will be those that traditionally sell other vendors security products, or if they are companies that have not dabbled in security, will help determine the overall speed with which Microsofts sales efforts get rolling, according to the analyst. Bova also said that there could be a more drawn-out period of time necessary to get newcomers up to speed, based on the need for companies to educate themselves on the intricacies of the security market. Paul DeGroot, analyst with Kirkland, Wash., researchers Directions on Microsoft, said that it may actually be security neophytes who are most eager to join SSA, based on their desire to tap into demand for the growing security market, and Microsofts promise to expand the space. In either scenario, he said, the software maker will be truly dependent on its partners to be successful in the sector. "Microsoft isnt going to succeed on basis of its products themselves; most were already on the market as with the Sybari technologies. So they really need to convince partners to get out there and sell them aggressively," said DeGroot. "Resellers who were already selling competitive products probably wont be willing to give up their other businesses, but Microsoft will try to take partners who havent sold security and get them into it." One issue that has followed Microsoft throughout the development of its security strategy is the notion that some customers may not yet be ready to trust the company to defend its own products, such as its Windows operating system, which have demanded frequent updating and patching to help close vulnerabilities in the software. Click here to read about a critical patch for Excel. For example, over the last four months, the company has patched 19 individual flaws in its dominant Microsoft Office software suite. The analysts said they dont see that perception as a long-term threat to Microsofts ability to sell security products, as long as those applications pass muster. Many of the tools have already gained acceptance while being sold by Sybari and other vendors Microsoft that has acquired. Microsoft partners said that most customers are not so much concerned with the software makers troubled past in securing its products as they are intrigued with its efforts to get into the security business. "Some people do come into the discussion a bit cynical or sarcastic about Microsofts efforts," said Neil Rosenberg, chief executive of reseller Quality Technology Solutions in Morris Plains, N.J. "But theyre also very willing to consider new alternatives within the context of security being a project that will never really be completed by anyone, or any one vendor." Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest security news, reviews and analysis. And for insights on security coverage around the Web, take a look at eWEEK.com Security Center Editor Larry Seltzers Weblog.
"With so many disruptive security technologies coming to market right now, and so many related programmatic disruptions for the channel, many companies are going to consider Microsoft seriously, and they have a very active channel already," Bova said.