By Nancy Hammervik
Imagine a CIO who was stranded on a desert island for more than five years returning to work and reviewing the companys latest network policies. Would he/she be aghast that employees were encouraged to use their own smartphones and tablet devices to access critical business information from outside the firewall? If that wasnt enough to push a trained security expert over the edge, the companys social media usage just might. A lot has changed in the past five years and each new technology adds complexity to the security concerns of an organization.
Fortunately, todays CIOs and technical experts have had time to absorb the changes over the last several years, including the transformation in network security policies. With the rapidly changing technology and business ecosystem, most companies need substantially more support from their solution providers than the installation of basic anti-virus and anti-malware software.
This transformation typically creates the need for new employee and network policies, an entirely new practice opportunity for interested and properly prepared consultants. The list of changes can include BYOD (bring your own device) strategies, cloud service adoption and social network usage. Each requires a shift in an organizations network policies, allowing access to outside applications while implementing new measures to ensure their data remains safe and secure. Thats not an easy balance for most companies. It also requires an IT team with a high level of security skills to maintain the systems and thwart even the most complex threats. Thats likely why many businesses are turning to the IT channel to get that expertise, even when they have their own technical resources.
Solution providers face many more challenges today than they did just a decade ago. With the rapid advances in technology and an increased complexity on the business side, it takes a broad set of skills to build and maintain a successful organization. VAR models are shifting, with a mix of cloud and managed services making up for a slowdown in break-fix business. While those changes may not seem significant, for solution providers with most of their training on the technical side, the recurring revenue revolution can be overwhelming.
Thats why the CompTIA Communities and Trustmark programs have been gaining ground in the IT channel. The collaborative groups offer a forum for solution providers to share best practices, gain valuable business and technology direction and work with their peers and industry experts to overcome common issues. While the ten current communities (with a new one to be announced soon) cover a number of technologies and vertical markets, their primary focus is to foster business skills relating to their specialties. Members of these groups tackle initiatives that matter most to organizations like theirs, including the development of educational programs and tools that will help solution providers improve their practices.
CompTIA Trustmarks are a strong marketing tool for VARs and MSPs who are ready to validate their business and technology policies and procedures. The credentials were designed to raise the proficiency for security and managed services professionals by outlining industry best practices and requiring applicants to meet certain standards. Obtaining a CompTIA Security or MSP Partners Trustmark gives solution providers access to a logo and related collateral to let their clients and prospects know about their new, prominent status.
There are a number of ways for VARs and MSPs to help their clients rest easy with the changing security landscape. Since solution providers cant send their customers CIOs back in time, the best method is to improve the services they deliver and to strengthen their own businesses so theyll be around to offer that support for years to come.
As senior vice president of industry relations for CompTIA, Nancy Hammervik is responsible for elevating the association’s public profile among its membership and across the IT industry. She is the principal liaison between members and the association, helps shape CompTIA educational programs and association initiatives for the IT channel and acts as an advocate on behalf of members and the broader industry. Hammervik joined CompTIA in 2011 after a 20-plus year career with Everything Channel, a top provider of IT channel-focused events, media, research, consulting and sales and marketing services.