Q&A: Find New Web Content Filtering Opportunities
These experts say VARs should be selling Web content filtering solutions to a few specific verticals facing specific government mandates.
Business Solutions, August 2009
Ron Kaplan, director of product mgt., St. Bernard: As the mobile workforce continues to grow, organizations must ensure that their networks are protected against IT threats that can surface from the use of nontrusted wireless connections or poor laptop etiquette. Remote workers connecting to corporate systems through questionable connections or using company-owned assets for personal use, open the network to outside security threats. Organizations must be able to accommodate mobile workers, but it’s critical those organizations have a Web filtering solution that can enforce security policy across all users. To address this, VARs should provide filtering products that offer all the advantages of an “on premises” solution, with the specific features and functionality required to meet the distinct needs of outside workers.
What regulations exist that VARs can use to help sell content filtering solutions?
Hongwen Zhang, president & CEO, Wedge Networks: Many organizations fall under the oversight of government compliance and reporting regulations that mandate controls over information. These are some common ones VARs should be aware of:
- Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Centering on health and benefits, HIPAA requires that a designated person in the organization be responsible and accountable for compliance with information security rules.
- Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) and BASEL II in finance. GLBA holds the boards of directors of banks and insurance companies accountable for information breaches. BASEL II requires the banks to demonstrate they can reduce the risks of security threats. The greater risk to which the bank is exposed, the greater the amount of capital the bank needs to hold to safeguard its solvency and overall economic stability.
- Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS). PCI requires organizations to implement mechanisms to protect credit and other payment card information.
- Sarbanes-Oxley for publically traded companies. Under this regulation, the CEO and CFO are directly responsible for safeguarding the company’s financial data.
What are some common content filtering pitfalls VARs run into?
Kaplan: There’s a tendency for customers to evaluate a dedicated Web filtering solution against other multipurpose solutions, such as a firewall or UTM (unified threat management) device. The assumption is that they are getting more for their money, since Web filtering is one component of the solution. But in reality, customers typically end up compromising on the full benefits of a Web filtering solution in exchange for other features that aren’t a necessity or a priority. VARs can better serve their customers by educating them on the differences between a dedicated solution and a “one-stop-shop” type of product and help guide customers toward the product that will ultimately solve the specific problem most effectively and efficiently. Simply, there just aren’t enough features in a UTM device if you want to solve the problems that Web filtering solutions solve.
Zhang: The basic functions of Web content filtering are well understood in the SMB market. However, the emerging enterprise and service provider market faces unique issues:
- Performance: these networks are typically high throughput with many concurrent application sessions. Network throughput is a key performance measure.
- Stability: the network cannot go down.
- Deployment and supportability issue: the solution has to be easy to deploy and support. It will be very difficult to persuade the customers to reengineer their networks.
Tom Zorn, executive VP, Arrow ECS’ Alternative Technology Group: In the cases of midmarket and enterprise customers, it’s a mistake to not understand all of the touch points a content filter has into the IT infrastructure, such as how it interfaces with other security software, whether it will operate in a switched network environment, and whether it requires an external SQL Server database or operates with MSDE (Microsoft SQL Server Desktop Engine). Midmarket and enterprise Web content filtering solutions are not easy to install without problems, and it is unwise to go in without past experience or support from your distributor or vendor.
Which market should VARs focus on to increase Web content filtering sales?
Zorn: School districts and libraries have a need; however, their budgets are typically constrained. They would be more likely to buy stand-alone, lower-end products. For midmarket businesses and enterprises, Web content filtering can be part of an overall enterprise solution which is integrated into their firewall, along with spam and virus protection. If you are already working with a midmarket or enterprise customer, Web content filtering can be a nice add-on, based on potential economic and productivity improvements.