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2022 Predictions: Cybersecurity: the role of the channel 

It’s that time of year again when the great and the good from the ICT industry gaze into their crystal balls and pick out the trends and technologies they think will be making waves in 2022. I’m seeing a tall dark stranger bearing a ransom demand, but what do the experts think? Read on to find out

Cybersecurity: the role of the channel

Scott Walker, Senior Director, Channel and Alliances EMEA, Illumio 

Security and Resilience 

In 2022, it is vital that security and resilience become one and the same strategy. We can no longer afford to think only in terms of how to secure infrastructure but must also consider how to build a resilient infrastructure by design. This way, when a cyberattack does happen, organisations have an established foundation that will allow them proactively to protect themselves from an attack, mitigate risk and respond in the most effective way. The channel has the expertise to know what a blueprint design for secure architecture looks like and is best placed to recommend the right option for their customers, from a security and resilience perspective. As we move into 2022, this will be an invaluable part of the channel’s role. 

Ransomware and Extortion 

Ransomware will continue to rise, with larger scale attacks and an exponential increase in the ransoms demanded. As attacks become ever more sophisticated, extortion is becoming the default. In 2022, as well as demanding money to decrypt data, cyber criminals will increasingly also threaten to expose said data if they do not receive additional payment. 

When it comes to defending against ransomware, the question I always ask is, if the security controls that a customer has in place are effective and working, why are ransomware attacks so successful? The answer is that traditional security controls are insufficient when it comes to combating evolving modern threats. The role of the channel in recommending more mature security programs will become pivotal, especially given end users’ misconceptions about the complexity of technologies that are in fact easy and simple to implement. 

Next year, the channel won’t only be responsible for recommending what technologies to use; they’ll also have the important role of designing, implementing and operating those things in a successful way. 

Zero Trust 

Back in 2019, when we were looking at the year ahead, Zero Trust was treated solely as a buzzword, and in 2020 we questioned whether it was just the same as least privilege. This year, with the rise in cyber attacks, everyone finally began to pay real attention to it. Now, moving into 2022, I strongly believe that if an organisation is not thinking about adopting a Zero Trust security strategy, or is not already in the implementation phase, a rapid program associated with taking their business on this journey is essential. By reducing the mean time to detection, Zero Trust enables a faster and more effective response, facilitating a far stronger security posture within an organisation. With all the varied attacks we’ve seen this year, this couldn’t be more important. 

It’s time Zero Trust became ingrained in security, and the role of the channel in realising this is critical. Channel partners now have an established, or at very least evolving, Zero Trust program to proactively use in 2022 to help customers understand where the biggest risk to them is and how to begin bettering their security posture with Zero Trust. As we move into next year, the channel should be prioritising this as a defining principle for their customers. 

Narrowing the skills gap 

The current acceleration of security in organisations is quite frightening and clearly has the potential to worsen the skills gap in the industry. To combat this, it is paramount that we harness the power of the channel as a mediator. Highly skilled individuals within the channel, who see the industry and its shortcomings from all angles, are the key to providing system integrators, enablement programs and graduate programs to promote the generation of skilled individuals who can implement technology, offer strategy, provide consultancy services and recommend software to organisations in the future. Tackling the skills gap and keeping up with the ever changing cyber security landscape will be a real requirement for the channel in the near future. 

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Veritas – Mike Walkey

Mike Walkey, SVP Global Channels & Alliances, Veritas 

Solving ransomware threat gives resellers access to the boardroom Ransomware attacks have increased 185% year-to-date, with costs expected to surpass $20 billion by the end of this year. As governments step in and propose new laws requiring companies to disclose ransomware payments, business leaders will no longer be able to hide their attacks and are expected to take a much more active role in data protection. Resellers will be able to use this opportunity not only to protect their customers and demonstrate their value, but also to build closer relationships at the executive level. 

Everyone will want ‘cloud-like pricing’ 

Businesses have fallen so in love with the simplicity and manageability of cloud pricing that they’re now demanding it everywhere, from desk space that you lease by the hour to uniform rental. For those old enough to remember the days of hiring mainframe access, it might seem like a case of ‘everything old is new again’, but however you look at it, this will be an opportunity for resellers. Now is the time for channel businesses to examine sales models and work out how to provide more subscription selling. And, for those products and services that vendors don’t offer with cloud-like pricing, think about what sort of financing packages can be offered to turn existing solutions into something more attractive for customers. 

Going green could keep resellers out of the red
COVID may have pushed environmental issues down the agenda for the last couple of years, but with most countries needing to hit ‘net zero’ by 2050, governments are passing down pressure to reduce emissions onto businesses. While price and service will almost certainly remain king in 2022, resellers that can demonstrate the environmental benefits of the solutions they offer, and the environmental credentials of their own businesses, are likely to see advantages, especially in more commoditised markets. 

Simplify projects to overcome customer skills shortages
A global skills shortage, coupled with an acceleration in digital transformation, means that more systems than ever are being managed by fewer specialists. This is leading to a backlog of projects in many companies – Veritas research suggests the average business will need another two years to fully secure the technologies they deployed during the pandemic.  If businesses are to sign up to new projects on top of this, resellers will need to convince them that they are simple enough to deploy and can deliver sufficient benefits to make it worthwhile. Simplifying solutions and carrying as much of the implementation burden as possible will be key to getting new sales off the ground in 2022. 

Automation and self-service

Terry Storrar, Managing Director, Leaseweb UK

Terry Storrar, Managing Director, Leaseweb UK 

Customer experience continues to be a key differentiator
One of the biggest trends we’re seeing going into 2022 is that more and more services are being driven and shaped by the end-user. The pandemic has caused a seismic change in what customers expect from vendor services – consumer and business – and suppliers will have no choice but to adapt services and business models to suit these new demands. 

In the data industry, business customers want flexibility and transparency, so providers need to look at how they optimise controlled infrastructure environments where customers can self- serve through automated applications. Self-service, getting things done in your own timescale with immediate results, is fast becoming an integral part of the overall customer experience and, more than ever, has become a key differentiator when choosing a technology, service provider or channel partner. 

The pandemic has accelerated the pace of change in this area, for customers and businesses alike, and this trend will gather momentum in 2022. Gartner predicts that by 2025, 60% of organisations will be using infrastructure automation tools. 

Data backup and DR

Stacy Hayes, Managing Director, Assured Data Protection

Stacy Hayes, Managing Director, Assured Data Protection 

OEMs embrace MSP route to market 

In 2022, we’ll start seeing more OEMs build out their managed service provider (MSP) networks to drive revenues, with many reopening MSP lines of business they had previously neglected. It’s a proven model that complements direct sales and helps organisations to drive new revenues and extend their reach. 

OEMs and larger vendors are now recognising the value MSPs have to offer. The demand for cloud technologies and managed services are on the increase and vendors are looking at ways to meet demand and lower the overall cost of a sale. Having a viable MSP option removes the need to invest in new sales teams. Instead, they can look at transforming their solutions into SaaS offerings to open new market opportunities with segments – and regions – they probably wouldn’t have considered targeting before. 

The MSP model makes particular sense from a data backup and DR perspective because nearly all businesses are looking to achieve cyber resilience. This is driven mainly by the prevalence of data breaches and ransomware attacks, but also because it’s getting much harder for businesses to insure themselves against the possibility of being attacked. With cyber insurance premiums rising and many insurers even refusing to offer policies, businesses are looking to vendors and MSPs as trusted third parties that can guarantee their data protection and security. 

We’re seeing a huge shift in business priorities with SaaS companies and their partners emerging as a viable alternative to traditional insurance. Cloud service providers are already diverging into this space and we’re going to see vendors capitalise on this opportunity by nurturing their MSP partnerships to expand their networks and serve more customers. This MSP resurgence will provide a boost to vendors and OEMs looking to drive sales and resellers looking to grow their portfolios. 

Time to call in the professionals 

At the same time, the changing nature, sophistication and intensity of cyber
attacks are causing a significant change in the mentality of IT Managers. Accelerated by remote work and cloud migration, cybercriminals are targeting critical data, crippling IT infrastructure and holding businesses hostage. With stakes higher than ever, security and data protection operations teams face significant challenges that often can’t be handled in- house, so next year will see an increase in the outsourcing of DR and security to MSPs. 

IT Managers are looking for a more diverse set of solutions that will protect themselves and outsource the risk and liability that they are now exposed to due to the lack of insurance available to them. It used to be cheaper to build your own backup, DR and security infrastructure and manage it yourself because insurance premiums were cheaper than the product or service. Now, the outsourced service is half the new insurance bill and IT teams are seeing a more secure and efficient set up with MSPs where their staff can focus on more mission-critical initiatives or strategic projects to improve the business. 

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Andrew Eva, Technical Director, Assured Data Protection

Andrew Eva, Technical Director, Assured Data Protection 

Hyperscalers market their own brand of data protection
Until recently, businesses always assumed the cloud would provide the safeguards and reassurance they needed when it came to hosting their prized digital assets. But there’s a growing scepticism about cloud providers’ ability to secure data now that breaches and ransomware attacks are so prevalent. 

The hyperscalers have responded by adding new layers of data management and protection to their vast cloud infrastructures. A flurry of M&A activity that began with Google acquiring Actifio and AWS acquiring CloudEndure culminated recently with HPE folding Zerto into its cloud platform. In 2022, we can expect to see the hyperscalers take the lead and announce their own data protection strategies, seizing the initiative from the traditional backup and DR players. 

This is a sensible move. Demand for cloud resources grew exponentially during the pandemic and it will continue to grow to support hybrid working and bandwidth- intensive apps and use cases. We’ll eventually reach a point where end users will expect the same levels of protection from their cloud provider that they get from an MSP. 

The same applies to businesses that are looking to retire their physical assets and move more of their operations to the cloud. They were already on that path pre-pandemic, but as they reach the end of hardware lifecycles their cloud investment decisions will be influenced by whichever provider has the most robust data management solution in place. With cyber insurance policies going through the roof and many insurers exiting the market, the onus will be on the hyperscalers to demonstrate cyber resilience and show how well equipped they are to manage and protect your data in any event. 

Managed Services

Kelly Ahuja of Versa Networks by SRK Headshot Day

Kelly Ahuja, CEO, Versa Networks 

MSPs seen as trusted advisors in security
Most of the large-scale ransomware attacks in the past year have been caused by third party software being exploited, as was the case in the SolarWinds and Kaseya hacks. Training on threats and vulnerabilities, such as Supply Chain attacks, will be critical for MSPs as they aim to become trusted advisors to customers for all things security. 

Securing the infrastructure that third party providers manage requires protection of the people, applications, systems, traffic and everything in-between, and to do that an MSP must find and retain world class cybersecurity talent and offer the best training to end users on the modern threats that plague organisations across all verticals. Well trained MSP providers acting as trusted advisors to organisations of all sizes will be the foundation for delivering good security hygiene and a strong security strategy in 2022 and beyond. 

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Fiona Doak, EMEA Director Channel, Appgate

Fiona Doak, EMEA Director Channel, Appgate 

ZTNA meets needs of hybrid
working model
Now that most companies have decided to adopt hybrid working and allow employees to work flexibly, the channel will need to ensure they have a cohesive go-to-market approach that is tailored and adapted to an organisation’s growing needs. Partners and distributors alike will have to offer solutions that complement and enhance an organisation’s security posture in this hybrid world. 

As a solution that complements a hybrid workforce, Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) will become more prominent in 2022. We’ve seen various pieces of government legislation and memos about Zero Trust over the past six months, and over the next year we can expect to see more Zero Trust principles being adopted by organisations looking to secure their networks. 

As a result of this demand, there is an increasing need for channel partners to implement more cohesive, innovative strategies that allow organisations to move from on-premise to the cloud, and more importantly, show them how they can do more with less. Organisations need to consider ways to move from older, more antiquated systems to technology and solutions that offer genuine security. The entire security infrastructure is now and forever changed, so ensuring the channel offers solutions and strategies that actually work in today’s world will not just benefit individual organisations, but the industry as a whole. 

Organisations will also be looking to create a three- to five-year strategy, which outlines their approaches and business goals and looks at how they can be more productive and profitable. This will require partners to be more collaborative, which means that in 2022 we may end up seeing organisations working with several channel partners in order to put in place an infrastructure that aligns both their security and business needs. For this to happen, the channel will need to continue being that trusted advisor and consultative partner. 

Vendors, on the other hand, will need to look at how they can arm partners/ prospects with the tools they need to do their jobs properly. To this end, Appgate supports its channel-first strategy by holding sessions where partners can ask us anything and we can learn more about the challenges they face and where we can offer additional help. Vendors need to look at ways in which they can provide the support partners need at a time when customers are demanding more cohesive, collaborative solutions to their security needs. 

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Sam Linford , VP Cannel & MSSP EMEA

Sam Linford, VP Channel & MSSP EMEA, Deep Instinct 

Demand grows for preventative cyber security

The channel has not significantly changed in the last few years, but in the years ahead we can certainly expect to see a shift in the way it is utilised by customers, end users, partners and distributors. 

The evolution of the cyber threat landscape and the development of new malicious code and software by cyber criminals is forcing the channel to provide more security services. VARs and MSPs are offering security products as part of their packages and are beginning to take on the role of Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP). 

MSSPs have the resources and expertise in new threats to help implement a security solution that works best for each customer and gives them a better security posture. This is a positive change and one the industry should welcome. 

In 2022, there will be a continued shift in the development of security service provisioning within the channel. We will see end customers look to MSSPs to deliver knowledge and expertise on the best solutions and have their technology solutions provided to them as a service, rather than hosting and managing the technology themselves. This shift will allow the channel to generate revenue in a way that is new, flexible and beneficial for the industry as a whole. 

Service providers will move away from selling security solutions that are ‘reactive’, such as endpoint detection and response, and instead focus on selling preventative solutions, such a deep learning. A subset of AI, deep learning is currently being used in cybersecurity to predict and prevent attacks. It can deliver a sub-20 millisecond response time to stop a cyber- attack, pre-execution, before it can take hold of an organisation’s network. With preventative technology and solutions such as deep learning entering the channel, service providers will be driven to consider whether they are truly presenting the best solution to their customers. 

Additionally, with the existence of solutions like deep learning, organisations will not have the need for large SOC teams, enabling them to redeploy employees and budgets to other parts of the organisation. Many security employees spend years at university learning their trade only to end up in a SOC team where they analyse alerts all day, many of which turn out to be false. Solutions like deep learning free time up to focus on other areas of their job. As a result, employees tend to stay longer with their company, helping to address the skills shortage we are currently witnessing within the cyber industry. 

New and more advanced security technology and solutions will always be introduced into the channel, rivalling products already on the market. Next year will see a shift in the demands of end users and customers; with ransomware and cyber-attacks continuing to grow, they will be looking towards genuinely preventative solutions. The channel market must be prepared to adapt to these demands and offer solutions that match their customers’ needs. 

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Jason Lee

Jason Lee, CISO, Zoom 

More companies to adopt the Zero Trust security model
Conversations around protecting the hybrid workforce from risk will lead security professionals to adopt modern tools and technologies, like multi-factor authentication and the Zero Trust approach to security. I believe companies need these tools to make sure their employees can get work done as safely as possible wherever they are – commuting, travelling or working from home – and to ensure all of their endpoints are secured with continual checks in place. 

Security leaders to step up protection against third-party risks
In security, you always need to be thinking ahead about what might come down the pipeline. From SolarWinds in December 2020 to Colonial Pipeline and Kaseya in 2021, our industry has seen a distinct increase in supply chain attacks. CISOs and CSOs will need to make sure their vendors are secure. This includes looking at third parties related to the business and assessing how best to manage any risks. 

More public technology companies to have cybersecurity committees on boards One of the most impactful things we have done at Zoom this year is to institute a three- person committee on our board dedicated to cybersecurity matters. Having security industry experience at this level is incredibly valuable, allowing us readily to address concerns and issues in industry shorthand. While this approach is still relatively new, it has been incredibly beneficial and I wish we had done it sooner. I’ve heard peers express strong interest in recreating this approachat their own companies, which leads me to expect this will be a priority for organisations in the new year. 

Security hiring boom set to continue 

We know that cybersecurity professionals are a hot commodity across industries, due to more available jobs than trained applicants. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that employment for information security analysts is projected to grow by 33% from 2020-2030. At Zoom, we expect to continue to hire highly qualified security professionals throughout 2022. I believe we’ll see the cybersecurity talent pool grow as more professionals choose to enter the field due to increased demand and, in many cases, the ability to work from anywhere. 

Working Culture

Christal Bemont,_CEO Talend

Christal Bemont, CEO, Talend 

Business leaders learn to treat data as an asset.
The pandemic accelerated the need for businesses to transform digitally and use data to increase efficiency and remain competitive. Yet, according to our 2021 Data Health survey, 78% of executives have challenges making data-driven decisions and 60% don’t always trust the data they use. Treating data as an asset that can be measured, trusted and acted on will provide healthy data for businesses to make critical decisions that drive business outcomes. 

The Great Resignation will continue unless a Great Re-Evaluation takes place.
Employees are looking for jobs that not only take care of them financially but also match their values and authentic selves. As employees re-evaluate their careers, companies will need to re-evaluate what working looks like to retain and attract talent. Benefits and perks will evolve with the new way of working and new employee priorities. Gone are the days when a simple health insurance and 401k package could be enough to entice prospective employees. Businesses need to pivot and re-evaluate what value a company can bring to its employees. 

Corporate culture will be lost if businesses don’t create real-life, shared experiences
When employees are distributed and the corporate office is no longer at the centre, it becomes critical to create in-person shared experiences. Corporate culture thrives through shared experiences and, no matter how much our industry tries, technology isn’t going to replace human connection. Companies cannot rely completely on digital communications to replicate human connections, but instead must actively enable real-life connections, for example by extending in-person onboard sessions to a month or holding micro- regional events near where employees live. Shared in-person experiences must anchor and lead corporate planning rather than being an afterthought as, through them, come trust, bonding and empathy, all of which contribute to corporate culture.
www.talend.com 

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Paul Clark, Senior Vice President EMEA, Poly 

RIP 9-5. Long live ‘anytime’ working 

Like a genie that has been released from the bottle, the workers who relished the perks of hybrid and flexible working have no desire to return to corporate life full time. According to recent research by Poly, 80% of employees in EMEA prefer to spend some days working from home. They want flexibility, and with the economy picking up and the ‘great resignation’ underway they have more power to choose how and where they should work. 

People want work-life balance with flexibility to visit their dentist, attend a school play, or swap their working days around to be able to meet up with an old friend who’s in town. Rather than being an asset that requires managing, employees have adopted a customer persona; they know what they want, why, when and how and they’ll tell you. Ignore them and they’ll go elsewhere.

Voyager 4310 Teams Situation

Polymorphic offices supercharged by tools, not toys
Offices will no longer necessarily be physical spaces with defined, individual spots. Future workplaces will be ecosystems of spaces and rooms that match the working habits or needs of different personae. People will no longer go into the office because they must, but because they want specific, person- to-person interaction. This will lead to significant changes in architecture, real estate, room design and investment in collaboration devices and technologies in future office buildings, as all these disciplines collide to provide the very best work experiences. 

Organisations that fail to support a flexible workplace in 2022 will struggle to build a collaborative culture. During the pandemic, shrinking networks affected innovation and creativity. Informal chats or unscheduled meetups no longer happened, yet collaborative moments like these contribute to knowledge sharing and problem- solving. Collaboration is required for a happy workforce, with the link between employee well-being and business performance well documented. 

Equality: the new imperative 

During the pandemic, it was all about business continuity, but companies will now need to adopt a people-first philosophy, based on choice. Choice is a great leveller and a catalyst for easy, meaningful and productive collaboration, enabling all workers to engage and perform at their very best. That approach presents a great opportunity for HR, IT, facilities management and the wider business to be more attuned to what employees want from their experience of work. Recent Stanford University research shows that over 40% of workers would actively look elsewhere if their employer failed to offer hybrid working. 

The main challenge of flexible, hybrid working is creating equity for all. Clarity and quality of image and sound are essential for better collaboration between colleagues. No matter where people choose to or have to work – their car, a meeting room or home – they will expect to be supported by devices and technologies that guarantee equal inclusivity. Access to reliable communications is key to ensuring people receive the same information, at the same time to avoid any inadvertent bias. www.Poly.com 

Telecoms, media and technology 

Analysys Mason highlights the top trends in 5G. 

5G connection numbers limited by 5G handset upgrades
Chipset shortages will worsen this limitation in 2022. Operators will continue the push for more 5G coverage and more networks will be launched but subscriber numbers will largely be determined by the pace of consumers acquiring 5G handsets. Reduced 5G handset shipments in the second half of 2021 and the first half of 2022 will result in 105 million fewer 5G handsets in use in 2022 than we previously forecast. 

Mobile operator strategies will diverge in 2022
Unlike previous generations of mobile networking, 5G will develop along two distinct tracks. Operators that are determined to offer new types of B2B  and B2B2C services will press on with 5G standalone (SA) technology and will depend on cloud partnerships to make this work. Other mobile operators will stay with 5G non-standalone (NSA) technology and a business that is tied to consumer services. 

Private networks continue to proliferate, but edge computing lags behind
At least 75% of new private networks in 2022 will be 5G, up from 31% at the end of 2020. However, the take-up of edge computing, a natural complement to 5G private networks, will continue to lag behind. We expect just 20% of private networks also to be using edge computing. Nevertheless, edge computing will be deployed more widely and more than half of private networks will be combined with edge computing by 2025. Operators (and vendors) need to prepare themselves for this shift. 

Operators focus attention on IT services 

We expect operators to strike more partnerships with vendors for security, SD- WAN, edge and cloud in 2022 than we did in 2021. Operators will also be active in developing vertical solutions (e.g. in health and education), digital services for small businesses and even some niche cloud services (e.g. sovereign clouds). 

Many pilots but few 5G-related business services launched
The features of 5G are well understood and, especially with the introduction of standalone networks, operators will have more capabilities to offer enterprises, such as low-latency services and service-level guarantees. Much more thinking is needed on how to price and package these services (e.g. how to price connectivity with guaranteed throughput or latency). Operators will work through these issues in 2022, but few products will be launched. www.analysysmason.com 

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