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Meet the Channel profiles partners, channel chiefs and analysts and offers an opportunity to learn a little bit about the person's real thoughts on the state of the channel. Click on each photo to learn more about the channel chief you’re viewing.
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This week we chatted with Guy Guzner, the co-founder and CEO of Fireglass, a company that specializes in enterprise security solutions. Prior to co-founding Fireglass in 2014, Guzner spent 13 years in various roles at Check Point Software Technologies, including a role as head of security products. He has also worked for both NetGuard and Tower Semiconductors throughout his channel career.
TVG: What are some of the biggest changes that you’ve seen throughout your time in the channel? What are some of the biggest paradigm shifts that you've lived through?
Guzner: I think one of the paradigm shifts that I’ve seen in the channel, and specifically among VARs and system integrators, is that computers became more holistic in their approaches. I'm talking about the security market, which is where Fireglass is active and where I have my experience. Instead of just selling point products, security experts are actually becoming more of advisors to the customers in regard to their spending, their environment and their needs. This allows them to sell holistic solutions that include several products working together in an ecosystem. I think it's becoming more of an ecosystem environment than just selling point products. I think that's a big shift that I've been experiencing.
TVG: When it comes to the resellers and system integrators that you're talking about in this space, what are some of the biggest challenges and opportunities that you're seeing for VARs today? And how did the advent of cloud and the subsequent shift in business models influence those challenges?
Guzner: I think one of the challenges is that the sales model has been changing. When I started my career, the concept of security as a service (SaaS) almost didn't exist, and today it's becoming more and more popular. I think it's a big change selling software and selling cloud services, which are subscription-based, rather than the perpetual licensing model, and this requires some patience both on the vendor side and also on the channel side.
I think that it also brings opportunities because some of the traditional paradigms are changing. For instance, selling security and providing the integration that applies to the support. In some senses it can become easier to sell services and cloud services. There’s no longer a need to haul inventories to do a field maintenance of these solutions. For someone who's adapting to this new world, it can be easier to sell such a solution.
TVG: Let’s take a look at the state of cyber security as a whole. We've seen a lot of things evolving really quickly. As we move into 2017, what are some of the big trends in cyber-attacks that you're seeing, and in what ways can enterprises and channel partners combat these new threats?
Listen to Guzman's answer below.
TVG: Now when you're looking at these trends, are there some ways that creative resellers and service providers can make some new revenue streams?
Guzner: I think that it always helps to educate customers. I think most importantly it's being open to learning about these new solutions and understanding that if the product has been selling for years, maybe it's time to change and then review their portfolio. Then, like I said, I think that the good resellers are taking positions of being trusted advisors to their customers. Then they're in a good position to advise them on the transition to use new technology, new products, and that, of course, creates new opportunities for them.
TVG: With the new administration and the new kind of when it comes to cybersecurity, there are a lot of really interesting questions being raised. Do you have any feedback on these discussions, whether it's how quickly things could escalate on a global scale or what should be classified as critical infrastructure in the States?
Guzner: Obviously, cybersecurity is becoming something with national implications. It could be also affected by the current changing administration and then brought in by other factors. It's interesting to see how it's going to be developed, but I think that one thing is clear. That is, when we're talking about critical infrastructure, the scope can be very, very wide. Traditionally, I think about utilities, including electricity and gas. I think today telecom is also critical infrastructure. Banking would also fit into that category.
As much as we continue to rely on the internet for everyday use, it's becoming more and more critical to protect the services being managed on the net. I think that we're going to see a lot of new initiatives coming in the next two years. It's definitely going to be interesting. It's really hard to tell where it's all going. Five years ago or ten years ago security wasn't much in the headlines. Today it's in the news all the time. So it's busy for us, but that's the reality.
TVG: What is it that gets you most excited about the channel?
Guzner: The thing that gets me most excited about working in the channel is the opportunity and the ability to scale those partnerships. Its always really nice to see those relationships blossom and become something bigger over the years as you work to expand that pipeline. The partnership of doing things together, that's always exciting.
TVG: If you could wave a magic wand and implement one change in your program without any headaches or hiccups, what would it be?
Guzner: That's actually a very good question because we just changed our partner programs and some of the terms. I think I would want to see how the recent changes we made resonate with the channels before I say how to further improve that process. Then, of course, if we need to make more changes, then we'll do them. I think that some of the changes that we did are around giving the partner more freedom in terms of the go-to-markets, the activities that they do, and pricing and other aspects. We also worked to give our partners more rope to be independent and to get the business for us. That was the spirit of the changes, and hopefully it will work out. Only time will tell.