Dell asking channel to push Identity & access management portfolio

LAS VEGASDell has work to do with its channel partners to get the word out that its security portfolio is more than just the SonicWall firewall product. It’s making a push behind identity and access management as it builds a security portfolio that integrates all its solutions from data centre to endpoint.

In an interview with CDN at Dell’s annual Peak Security conference, which has doubled in size this year, Dell executives said they see a greenfield opportunity around identity and access management (I&AM) and it’s an opportunity they plan to pounce on.

Bill Evans, senior director of product marketing at Dell Software, came to the vendor through its acquisition of Quest Software. That acquisition helped form the base for Dell’s I&AM portfolio, which Evans said includes three broad areas: governance, privilege management and access management.

“We’re bringing all these technologies together: privileged accounts now integrate with the firewall, and two-factor authentication integrates with SonicWall,” said Evans. “We’re starting to roll out these integration points.”

Dell admits that it hasn’t made much progress getting the channel onboard with its broader security portfolio, including I&AM. Quest mainly drove channel fulfillment through distribution, but now Dell wants to drive a more direct relationship with partners. That begins at this conference, and part of it will be focused around education.

“When customers are educated on context-aware security they see the value and know they need it, but it’s more of an education process,” said Evans. “They need to understand how it all comes together.”

While larger organizations tend to have more complexity, Evans said even organizations with less than 1000 users can have the complexity that makes I&AM valuable – for example, if they have multiple administrators, infrequent users or a diverse audience.

Dell sees a real greenfield opportunity around identity management said Timothy G. Brown, a Dell fellow and executive director for security in the Dell Software group. It took Dell by surprise, but he said the customer lists of the major players in the space, such as IBM, Oracle and CA, don’t extend much below the Fortune 1000. Brown said even many state governments don’t have identity management solutions in place.

“As a partner I love greenfield opportunities because I have a product that can address this today, and it’s not a replacement product,” added Curtis Hutcheson, vice-president and general manager of Dell Security Solutions, during his Peak Performance keynote.

Dell is looking to drive channel adoption of its broader security portfolio by investing in partners with 60 new channel team members and a 100 per cent increase in channel marketing funding, and new incentives and rewards for high growth partners.

“We’re challenging our partners. We’ll guarantee more profitability, but we want you to make sure you invest it in growth,” said Hutcheson. “We’ve got to move at a multiple of the market.”

The power of integration

An example of the sort of solutions the integration of Dell’s security portfolio can allow centres around the Dell Security Analytics Engine, which does risk scoring in real time when a user requests access to the corporate network. It notes if you’re logging in from a corporate or non-corporate network, whether you’re using a corporate-approved device, where you’re located, the time of day and more. A risk score is sent to Dell Cloud Access Manager, which can make a real-time authentication decision.

“So if I’m logging in Sunday from Las Vegas, it may decide that I have the right user name and password so we’ll implement setup authentication and ask me for a one-time token,” said Evans. “But if I’m logging in from 1:00 AM from North Korea, it may lock me out.”

The solution uses Dell One Identity Cloud Access Manager, geo location information from SonicWall, Dell Defender for authentication, and a readily available blacklist – Dell SecureWorks have that integrated. Lockout is a policy decision; administrators set the policies and what happens based on the risk score.

While security is often seen as a priority for the IT department and something to be tolerated by business users, Dell is pitching its I&AM portfolio as a tool for business enablement tool.

“When users are burdened with onerous security hurdles they’ll find a way around it. The ability for this technology to give IT the ability to turn the security knobs up and down in real time is the real benefit,” said Evans. “If a customer can just use their user name and password nine times out of 10, the one-time 10 they need to use a one-time token they’ll understand. I&AM is a discipline fueled not just by security, but business efficiency and productivity.”

Brown added that privilege management should reach the point of being good security hygiene.

“You should never give anyone access to your root or your Oracle admin. It’s bad for them and bad for the company,” said Brown “We’re seeing a lot more instances of targeted phishing attacks against individuals with this access, and these are the worst attacks in terms of financial loss and damage to the company. And they’re becoming more common.”

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Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras
A veteran technology and business journalist, Jeff Jedras began his career in technology journalism in the late 1990s, covering the booming (and later busting) Ottawa technology sector for Silicon Valley North and the Ottawa Business Journal, as well as everything from municipal politics to real estate. He later covered the technology scene in Vancouver before joining IT World Canada in Toronto in 2005, covering enterprise IT for ComputerWorld Canada. He would go on to cover the channel as an assistant editor with CDN. His writing has appeared in the Vancouver Sun, the Ottawa Citizen and a wide range of industry trade publications.

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