I’ve often heard the phrase that it can’t hurt to ask for what you want. It sounds trite, but it is often quite true. Moreover, the complete picture might further reveal that if you’re not asking for something, you may have no chance of ever getting it. I can give you a great example, and hopefully show how one can ask questions that can really impact their security posture.
In my role, I get to span three worlds: In one, I get to talk to enterprise and cloud service providers that are building agile, modern businesses and grappling with the cornucopia of security challenges that implies. They have to deal with all kinds of regulations, customer and business unit demands and a veritable onslaught of security threats. They have some needs that are painful, urgent and high priority and others that are more nascent or “simmering” issues. They all represent risk to the business at some level. As such, they have security needs. My job is to help identify those needs that Intel and its broad ecosystem of solution providers can help address.
In the second world, I work with some really smart architects, engineers and planners at Intel to map our interesting technologies into solutions that address customer needs. This means influencing road maps and identifying the value-added components that take these technologies and make them usable and valuable in the way businesses need to work. And this is of course really important as no one wants to rip and replace or take on new ways to do things if they don’t absolutely have to.
In the third world, I get to work with our ecosystem of solution providers: the OEMs that sell systems and solutions based on Intel processors and components, the software providers that can build more powerful and efficient solutions utilizing Intel silicon, cloud service providers that increasingly provide scalable value add processing and storage infrastructure for customers and integrators that help build and support IT solutions for business partners. My role here is to help them to bring solutions to market—aligning them to Intel road maps and highlighting solution potential.
Over the years, the first two “worlds” harmonized reasonably well. Yes, sometimes customers have pain points that Intel really can’t solve. Shocking, I know. And yes, sometimes our concepts don’t lend themselves to operational use. But more times than not, we can show significant benefits and utility for real solutions.
The third world is the one that sometimes does not align. It is NOT because these folks are not interested in security or smart. By FAR the most common reason for ecosystem divergence is a quote I hear often: “customers are not asking for it”—with “it” being some feature. One could say that customers probably rarely ask for any specific “feature” until it is widely known in the market—but that is the easy way out. It occurs to me that the more simple answer is for the people that really ultimately influence everybody—the end customers—to be more demanding!
I often get to present at industry and customer events, and each time I make it a point to remind customers that they should be exercising their power—to ask for more from their suppliers and technology partners. It could be as simple as asking the basic questions such as “how can you help me get better security?”. This could open the door to more detailed and long-term discussions about influencing roadmaps. But it could also help identify more near-term capabilities and solutions that the vendor is just not mentioning. In any case, just asking the questions will certainly start to get the ball rolling and allow you to gain more help to cope with the growing burden of securing the business. And if your technology partner doesn't have good answers or thoughtful dialog on how they can help, it might be time to find new IT partners.
By Jim Greene, Sr. Security Engineer at Intel