Finding cybersecurity leaders in the channel

Finding cybersecurity leaders in the channel

An assessment in the channel to understand partner capabilities around cybersecurity, powered by our channel assessment tool Alys.


Canalys was excited to conduct an assessment in the channel to understand partner capabilities around cybersecurity. The assessment was powered by Canalys' channel assessment tool Alys, and launched in partnerships with Tech Data and Trend Micro.

Partners were asked to complete Cybersecurity 360, a 24-question points-based assessment. The goal was to understand the strengths and weaknesses of partners engaged in the business of cybersecurity, and to help partners identify areas for improvement.

Through this initial phase of the assessment, key common traits of leading cybersecurity partners were identified. Firstly, all partners are seeing their cybersecurity business grow in double-digits, meaning they are outpacing the overall market growth. But there were eight other common traits seen across this exclusive group of Cybersecurity Leaders as shown below:

1. They offer a comprehensive suite of cybersecurity technologies

Many channel partners dip their toes into the water of cybersecurity with endpoint and network security solutions; the most common security offerings. But Cybersecurity Leaders understand that to tackle complex threats, a host of other solutions and technologies are required, including identity management and cloud protection. But there are still untapped areas and opportunities for these partners – only 40% sell application security for developers. This will be a new area for cybersecurity leaders to focus on.

2. At a minimum, they have a dedicated division focused on cybersecurity

There are pureplay cybersecurity partners out there, but it is not necessarily a prerequisite for being a Cybersecurity Leader in the channel. However, most leaders at minimum have a dedicated division (or business unit) focused on cybersecurity. Cybersecurity is a specialized domain, and too important for there not to be dedicated resources to tackling and targeting these opportunities. It's an obvious, yet important organizational trait to look out for when identifying leaders.

3. They primarily sell to senior leadership within their client base

Cybersecurity, now more than ever, is at the top of political, corporate and societal agendas. This comes on the back of an increasing rise in data breaches – 2020 was a record year in this category! Leading cybersecurity partners understand they need to be advising and selling cybersecurity solutions and strategies to the senior leadership within their clients.

4. They possess a deep understanding of their customer's IT environments

Cybersecurity is just one layer in the overall IT stack, but one that needs to work in unison with all the other layers. Vulnerabilities exist in all corners of an IT environment; from devices to the network, from applications to the cloud. As we already highlighted, cybersecurity leaders need to have solutions that can offer different types of protection, but to deploy these solutions effectively, partners must have a strong grasp of their customers' IT environment as a whole.

5. They design and implement cybersecurity policies for clients

A company can deploy all the cybersecurity technology in the world, but these will be ineffective unless they are backed by well designed policies. This starts at a systems administrator level but extends to all the users in an organization. A key role that cybersecurity leaders play is designing and implementing these policies for their customers to ensure that corporate security requirements are met while ensuring that end-user productivity is not impacted.

6. They provide a full suite of managed security services

Managed services are one of the fastest growing corners of the overall channel landscape. According to one of our recent polls, over 80% of partners offer managed services. This dynamic applies to the cybersecurity space, and increasingly we are seeing vendors offer managed services partner programs to support their partners' practices. The complexity of managed services offered does vary across the landscape, but we identified that cybersecurity leaders in the channel typically have a comprehensive suite of managed security services.

7. They operate a Security Operations Center (SOC)

In order to support clients, we found that the majority of cybersecurity leaders operate their own Security Operations Center (SOC). This undoubtedly can be a costly undertaking, from both a systems investment and a staffing requirement. But protecting customers from cyber threats is an on-going activity, and a SOC is the command post that enables cybersecurity leaders to take on the challenge. Vendors wanting to appeal to this group of partners must think of two things: first, how to deliver technologies that protect customers and second, how to deliver solutions that help SOC teams monitor, manage, and respond to incidents within their customers' environments.

8. They are currently recruiting to support their security practice

The good news so far in 2021 is that the channel is in hiring mode. According to a recent Canalys poll, 69% of partners indicated they were hiring in the first half 2021. This was also seen within our group of cybersecurity leaders as identified by our Alys assessment – they were all actively recruiting to support their cybersecurity practice.

Canalys would like to thank our pilot partners, Tech Data and Trend Micro, who have been instrumental in getting Cybersecurity 360 off the ground. We are excited to continue to expand and broaden our assessment of the cybersecurity channel landscape.

If you want to be part of this journey, please reach out to us.