A Lesson in VAR Language

Oct. 27, 2008

There’s loads of activity in the convergence world and part of that is centering on the topic of value-added resellers (VARs). This term comes from the information technology (IT) side of the business and security dealers and integrators are learning more about how to get on board with these skills and more.

IT value-added resellers are a common phenomenon in the computer networking world. But how can security dealers and integrators get involved?
Carlberg: The security dealers need to continue to build their understanding of the IP network so they can sit at the same table with IT and bring value around their solution as it relates to deployment across the network.
Jarman: Where those two worlds intersect is the best place to begin those conversations. One of those intersections can be the IT server room. Both types of business partners have interest in securing those assets; with the IT VAR focused on the security of the information residing on those systems and the security dealer and integrator focused on the physical security of the systems.

Little: Security dealers and integrators can get involved by ensuring that there are IT capabilities on staff to talk the language, thus creating a bridge between clients, security and IT decision makers. Also, consider partnering with IT consulting firms until hiring experienced staff is feasible.

Swope: Security dealers and integrators who are leading the way in security and cutting-edge technology are already deeply involved with deploying the IT infrastructure and technology.

Wojtasiak: Security dealers and integrators can participate in the IT space in several ways: acquire IT expertise; partner with local or regional IT VARs and/or leverage the increasing number of IT manufacturer, vendor and distributor training programs to acquire knowledge, certification and reseller authorization.

How can integrators work more closely with IT partners to add value to their businesses?
Carlberg: There are partners that build focused practices within a single specialization and other partners that have practices in many specializations. Our channels’ team focuses on helping partners build successful businesses. The team can assist in finding the right partner that fits from a specialization perspective or from a relationship perspective.

Jarman: The security dealer and integrator can also add value to other telecommunication systems that the IT VAR has installed and is tasked with managing by providing access control and environmental sensors. Since both the IT VAR and the security dealer have mutual clients in the commercial enterprise, their internal contacts could easily make introductions.

Little: Both sides need to understand the value add of each other and mobilize to achieve the security objectives of the client. C-Level sponsors need to drive the process, define the rules of engagement and hold everyone accountable.

Swope: Integrators are able to add value to IT partners by bringing the physical security solution needs and experience to their customers. We work with several IT partners on projects where they may have inroads with existing customers with needs outside their expertise.

Wojtasiak: Security integrators and IT VARs can find each other in several ways: Ask your existing security customers what IT company they work with and vice versa; and start locating local or national IT VARs to partner with by leveraging reseller programs from vendors who have partners that specialize in networking and storage.

Where do you see the IT/integrator world in five to 10 years?
Carlberg: Having been down this road before when voice moved onto the network, the question is not “who will win the battle?” of the customer. I believe the real question is “which partner/ integrator will make the investments?” to build practices within both disciplines.

Jarman: I see the IT/integrator world very much like the current IT VAR world. Security partners are working as business partners, with IT VARs, and each bringing their individual skill sets and customer relationships to solve real business problems for their mutual customers.

Little: There will be more focus on services and those offering just a box sale will become more extinct. This is good news for the full service integrator with IT capabilities and should result in both IT and integrator gaining more credibility with the client.

Swope: In order to succeed in the future, security integrators will have to become more knowledgeable and in some cases experts in the IT world. Security integrators will need to compete with IT organizations.

Wojtasiak: I see a heightened level of competition among manufacturers vying for mindshare with the channel. IT/integrators will become more specialized by market segment, verticals and applications than they are even today.

How do you define the term VAR?
Carlberg: As IT continues to be more and more involved in the physical security discussions, the value the customer looks for is changing. The real education is taking place at the field level as the solutions are being deployed.

Jarman: Simply put, a VAR is a business partner who takes a system and presents it to the customer with their own expertise attached. That expertise could be training, support, software or even additional hardware.

Little: Many manufacturers are leading the charge, by increasing their IP offering, in video, access and intrusion product solutions. They are offering certification classes to teach the basics of IT as it relates to their product solutions. End users are developing a better understanding of how an IT-enabled solution can increase return on investment.

Swope: Integrators don’t just sell boxes but sell solutions. The difference is in the ability to assess and understand the real needs of the end user to make sure the proper solution is offered.
Wojtasiak: In the future, a true VAR will have expertise beyond IT and incorporate physical security hardware, software, and services to offer an integrated solution. This can be via an IT VAR gaining knowledge of security, or a security integrator gaining knowledge of IT. The opportunity today is wide open.