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Business Intelligence


Anthony Daley is senior vice president and general manager, the Americas, Westcon Group North America Inc, a value-added distributor. Daley spoke with T@G in June about areas of growing importance to telecom agents, such as networking security and standards, and how to avoid becoming just a commodity to clients.

T@G: What are the most important things in the increasingly convergent area of networking security that channel partners need to know?

Anthony Daley

: Channel partners need to understand the method by which a converged solution enables traffic and information to be transported. Once you have an understanding of that specifically how the information flows in packets you then understand that it has many of the same vulnerabilities as a traditional data network. Voice and data networks are becoming one. Business applications, including voice applications, are transitioning to a common network infrastructure based on the Internet protocol. When IP is used to transmit voice, the traffic becomes vulnerable to all of the tools and techniques used to attack any IP-based network. These threats include viruses, DoS attacks and interception of packetized voice conversations.

T@G

: What end-user needs are driving the evolution of network security?

Daley

: When you look into today’s environment, with worms and other kinds of threats, you have to protect yourself while maximizing the efficiency and the availability of your network. This has to be done without compromise. Also, legislation such as HIPAA and Sarbanes-Oxley is influencing the need for companies to ensure the protection of private data. This also applies for companies that maintain records and information about customers, including credit card information, account information and so forth. CIOs now are personally liable if they are found to have not taken all necessary precautions associated with this.

T@G

: What are the crucial technologies and standards partners want to be familiar with?

Daley

: There are a variety of different technology standards. Convergence protocols, SIP, XML, MPLS and the 802.x standards that exist for wireless. Many standards are going to remain as you evolve to a converged network. From a security standpoint, we continue to see development and improvements that will enhance overall network protection. Clearly, the standard for security is much more than a firewall; a layered security solution needs to be implemented in todays converged networks. A standardized solution now includes intrusion detection, intrusion prevention, content controls and anti-virus.

T@G

: What should partners be on the lookout for in terms of changes or growth in the field of networking security?

Daley

: As networks continue to expand and as more access points become necessary, one needs to be cautious that these additional access points are protected whenever they are added. Every time a device connects into the network, you have to make sure that device has some kind of protection. When you look at the traffic being combined in a converged environment, the need to manage risk and to protect IP infrastructure as well as the need to maintain a good security management solution becomes apparent, as I alluded to earlier. In many cases, we’re now looking at a security problem when things have already happened, or the damage has been done. Ultimately, you have to get a management capability to address and stop threats as they happen, in real time, instead of simply reporting on it after the fact. So you’ll see continued movement in that direction.

T@G

: What’s changed in the last couple of years that would lead you to stress the importance of being educated beyond the basics of what partners may sell daily?

Daley

: There’s a couple of things. One is the importance of the relationship that you have with channel partners. You need to utilize these relationships to ensure that you know what is happening and what is coming in the marketplace. I think if you’re not helping your partner understand where they need to take their business in today’s converged solutions marketplace, you’re just a commodity. And in today’s market, commodity purchases are driven by price and price only.

T@G

: How are IP devices changing the face of network security?

Daley

: More and more devices now are able to connect to the network, offering unprecedented capabilities and increased remote productivity. New application-driven networks for e-commerce are the norm today. However, it all comes back to security. As more of these devices and IP applications are put onto the network, you have to be extremely disciplined about keeping the larger network secure. Once you lose control, your overall vulnerability increases.

T@G

: What future trends and drivers in the space should we watch out for?

Daley

: I think you’re going to see the continuation of security being driven deeper into the network. Security will be ubiquitous across all components of the network. Whereas a firewall in the past was at the beginning of the network, what you’re seeing now are multiple security enforcement points as network devices are used more commonly. We’re also seeing the security element becoming more complex, along with the addition and implementation of other applications to address certain niche security elements. These products must run effectively and efficiently so that they do not cause any disruption in service level or speed within the network. As complexity of these devices increases, we’ll see the continued need for management.

T@G

: How does Westcon Group work to facilitate partner sales efforts?

Daley

: By developing an ongoing education process, such as readiness programs, extensive pre-sales support, advanced product positioning tools, and other things to help customers understand where and why people are spending money on technology.

T@G

: Westcon Group contracts with a number of vendors, just as many master agents offer different carriers’ options. How has this philosophy contributed to Westcon Group’s bottom line, and ability to attract and maintain clients?

Daley

: Our vendor philosophy is driven by what the market needs. We carry market proven products and maintain certain capabilities to ensure that our customers are able to meet their customers’ demands. We’ve been able to position ourselves with a very focused approach, while maintaining key vendor alliances. Our goal is to continue to have a key emphasis on our primary vendors, but continue to look for opportunities in growth areas with some of the specialty manufacturers that we support.


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