Zero Trust: market opportunity or marketing buzz?
That’s the ponderance of many throughout the IT channel ecosystem as the momentum continues to build. Although adoption is growing, particularly in APAC, many channel partners remain uncertain as to whether the cost of building a Zero Trust practice is worthwhile – or if it is just another storm in a teacup whipped up by sophisticated marketing professionals to sell more black boxes.
At Illumio, we see our growing channel community increasingly embrace the Zero Trust model with real-world outcomes, but for those not already ‘on the wagon,’ here are five good reasons why partners should invest in Zero Trust today.
1. Differentiation through strategy and vision
Partners need to bring value beyond transacting deployments. The days of dump and run product sales are long gone. Zero Trust does the exact opposite, allowing channel organizations a coveted seat at the decision-making table. By informing and influencing future project pipelines and overall security strategy as a value-add and differentiator through an advisory role, partners can become very sticky inside organizations. As their credibility grows, they become a go-to, trusted advisor, which can only improve customer retention rates and the lifetime value of a customer.
What’s more, the strategy and vision of Zero Trust itself aligns to the C-suite priorities of today. A recent survey from Forrester Research showed CISOs spend 17% of their time working on strategy and planning, precisely what Zero Trust allows partners to discuss. This 17% was higher than in any other area, illustrating its value to customer and prospect leadership.
Base: 164 Australian security decision makers at director level or above
2. Expand your share of wallet
With the ability to influence project pipelines stemming from the newfound or expanded advisory role, partners can grow their historic engagements and expand from a single project or SOW to ownership of a future technology state with involvement in the overall security project pipeline. This comes down to Zero Trust truly being a framework, not a product. The framework is built with a combination of technologies covering five pillars: people, data, devices, networks, and workloads. All supported by automation and visibility requirements in a process of continual improvement. So, as a partner, there’s always more support to offer inside a customer organization.
Own the management and security of devices already? Leverage Zero Trust to move into data and workload protection or go the other way. Own both? Introduce visibility and automation. Fortunate to have it all? Zero Trust is a journey and managing it on an ongoing basis will keep the competition out.
The beauty of the vision/strategy is that many existing lines of revenue for partners can be incorporated into a legitimate Zero Trust strategy for prospective or existing customers, sustaining important revenue for partners while allowing the new breed of Zero Trust native vendors to be brought on to create new streams of revenue.
3. Opportunity for services revenue
With multiple pillars to address, there are plenty of opportunities to attach services to the delivery of multiple technology projects. Beyond deployment and delivery services, the “always-on” nature of Zero Trust allows channel organizations to build out repeatable services engagements under an MSP agreement. At Illumio, we've seen several channel partners actively build out a ZTaaS package to take to market, combining best of breed Zero Trust leaders, like Illumio, with other security players to form the foundation of their existing lines of revenue.
4. Zero Trust creates healthy GP
Channel organizations recognize the difficulty in maintaining high GP margins when competing to win business and that every meaningful deal is hotly contested by a range of competitors, often offering a like-for-like comparison.
With product combinations and strategic vision creating differentiation, partners can insulate themselves from point solution competition and avoid the margin compression that partners increasingly face within a hyper-competitive landscape. Healthier upfront margins can also be combined with a strong professional services component delivering and managing an always-on strategy.
5. There is market interest today
Share of wallet, improved long-term GP, and differentiation all mean little if nobody cares to listen. Fortunately, that isn't the case across APAC and all over the globe. Last year's 2019 Zero Trust Adoption Report states 78% of IT security teams are looking to embrace Zero Trust in the future, with nearly 20% already actively implementing the framework to better secure their environments. These stats speak to the readiness of a market to adopt and engage channel partners on the topic today and a substantial addressable market coming online and ready to be explored – ensuring the continued growth of any Zero Trust business practices a partner may choose to invest in today.
In short, the opportunity to grow a Zero Trust practice is here today. Just as when virtualization and cloud-first hit domestic markets across APAC, partners that choose to embrace Zero Trust early and establish credentials ahead of the mass will be best positioned to ride the wave to profitability. For those wanting to get started, consider choosing a vendor stack to provide Zero Trust based on reputable sources like Forrester's annual Zero Trust Wave report and cut out the marketing buzz from pretenders. Commit to the strategy and educate field teams to position the approach and not just the product. And finally, leverage the resources technology providers have to jointly take advantage of the opportunity knowing vendors that are truly invested in the Zero Trust model will have resources to make capturing the market easier.
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