More than 150 resellers were drawn to the heights of Toronto at the end of the InfoSecurity conference last week, prompting the party’s host to see great things for the sector.

“”It indicates what an interest from the reseller and end user community there is on the security side both hardware

and software,”” said Ray Gonsalves, director of product marketing at Tech Data Canada.

Gonsalves saw the event, held a restaurant atop the CN Tower, as a great opportunity for vendors to connect to the reseller community than on the Web.

“”The intent is to allow resellers to engage with the vendors and get a better understanding of their solution, and gauge their own ability in terms of what they want to sell and what’s required to deploy those solutions as well,”” he said.

It was the third year in a row Tech Data Canada wrapped up the conference in Toronto with a reception for customers and security vendors. Over 150 resellers attended the event as well as representatives from major security manfuacturers including 3Com, Cisco Systems, Computer Associates, IBM, McAfee Security, Nortel Networks, Sonicwall, Symantec and WatchGuard.

The distributor earlier this year held similar receptions in Montreal and Vancouver as part of Tech Data’s regional events, where vendors showcased their latest hardware and software security products and solutions.

Tony Leggio, country channel manager for Internet security appliance manufacturer Sonicwall, said resellers are looking for solutions that have reoccurring revenue.

Sonicwall, which sells through the channel exclusively, has 250 partners across Canada. Product margins start at 15 per cent for regular channel partners, between 15 to 25 per cent for silver partners, and go as high as 30 per cent for gold partners. Resellers can make additional margins on services on top of product margins.

Premiere System Solutions, a Sonicwall partner, said Tech Data party was very helpful in the absence of conferences like VARdex, which came to an end 12 years ago.

“”There was no dealer venue where (resellers) could approach vendor’s freely,”” said Andy Szego, the company’s founder.

Cameron Gracie, president of Sygnet Systems Inc., an Oakville, Ont.-based reseller who said security is a hobby for him, also found value in the reception.

“”I’m happy to come down (to Toronto). I appreciate the vendors taking the time to meet and talk with us,”” he said.

Gonsalves said hardware appliances fit well with the needs of small and medium businesses that may not have the technical resources in-house to deploy, manage and maintain security devices.

“”In the SMB space the appliances have a lot of momentum at this point because of the simplicity to deploy, and it’s easy for them to understand and manage that as opposed to a more complex integrated solution.””

Gonsalves said that as IT spending has rebounded, companies are investing and dedicating funds to security.

That was backed up by Steve Poelking, director of research of Canadian infrastructure and applications at International Data Corp. Canada, who said companies are increasingly budgeting for anti-virus and anti-spam solutions.

IDC Canada believes there was double-digit growth for security software market in fourth quarter of 2003. The security software market as a whole is estimated at around 12 to 15 per cent compound annual growth rate between now and 2008 – a healthy number compared to the general IT market which is at three per cent, said Poelking.

Poelking is watching the hardware versus software clash closely. “”There appears to be a great clash whether or not security should be delivered in the form of software or in a box,”” he said. “”Companies like Cisco, Netstream and Sonicwall are probably on the right track in sensing that customers would like something that’s easy to deploy and manage.””

Gonsalves says he’s increasingly seeing a blurring between hardware and software solutions as more software vendors are engaged in the appliance business.

“”The lines are really crossed on that side. We see benefits from both sides in terms of our ability to understand and articulate the value that the different offerings bring.””

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