CompTIA Sets a New Channel-Ready Standard for Cloud Vendors

Community Content

comptia logoBy Miles Jobgen, Director of Trustmark Programs for CompTIA

Traditional hardware resellers often beta test their suppliers’ new products and programs before making

firm relationship commitments. The vetting process may require some effort and patience, but when a server or software program has performed well over a certain period of time, it gives them enough confidence to roll it out to more customers. While vendor warranties and support services are often tested later on, most solution providers get a feel for the organization based on the quality of the products they deliver.

With the cloud, that vetting process is a lot more difficult. What you see isn’t always what you get. While most cloud vendors make significant investments to deliver high quality solutions, there are exceptions to the rule. Though we’d like to believe every supplier’s infrastructure and security procedures are rock-solid, the risks are simply too numerous without some sort of validation.

If not implemented and managed correctly, the cloud could leave you and your clients vulnerable to cyberattacks. Poor systems could expose sensitive data or fail to protect information loss in the event of a natural disaster. Do your cloud vendors follow proven industry standards? That is, are they doing everything a responsible company would do to protect its end customers’ data as well as its partners’ businesses? While no company delivering solutions through the internet can guarantee a 100% risk-free experience, those who follow prescribed industry best practices are more likely to attain that objective.

CompTIA Cloud Community members have voiced similar concerns and, after many months of sorting out the details, just unveiled a first-of-its-kind program that will simplify the vendor vetting process. The new CompTIA Cloud Trustmark+ was developed to help protect resellers and their customers by ensuring their suppliers meet certain performance objectives and a number of industry-standard best practices.

As a true vendor business credential, it covers service level agreements and the specific security measures they have in in place. Companies holding this Trustmark will have shared important details that solution providers need before signing on as channel partners.

A Collaborative Industry Effort

Why should solution providers, vendors and distributors care about a business credential like this one? First of all, they asked for, designed, developed, and support it. Yes, this Cloud Community initiative was truly a collaborative effort that addresses the combined needs of the IT channel. Solution providers and distributors wanted a better way to evaluate potential partners, while vendor members asked for a fair standard that every company could attain with the right focus and effort. The CompTIA Cloud Trustmark+ meets those criteria and sets a baseline expectation for vendors delivering theses services through channel partners.

Given the wide variety of what can be done through the cloud, establishing the controls for this business credential was a challenge than past projects, but the end product is a best case scenario for all channel professionals. In effect, this Trustmark provides vendors with a blueprint for building (or validating) a cloud offering that solution providers can confidently use with their customers. The application process will help identify what they do well and areas that need improvement, allowing them to fill gaps and enhance potential shortcomings.

Providers and distributors stand to benefit just as much from the Cloud Trustmark+ in the future. While the program is still in launch stage, they can encourage vendor partners and prospects to seek the credential as a way of validating their best practices. They’ll have to pass a comprehensive third-party review covering a detailed list of business and technology criteria, and submit documentation on several aspects of their business, including:

• Corporate and Product Overview

• Go to Market Strategy

• Partner / Channel Strategy

• Security and Infrastructure

• Internal Operations and Support

Cloud + Channel=Success

What’s the ultimate value of the new CompTIA Cloud Trustmark+? Confidence! Channel relationships are built on trust and vendor viability is often a core part of solution providers’ concerns. Chris Johnson, Chairman of the CompTIA IT Security Community and CEO of Untangled Solutions concisely sums up the problem and the solution to that dilemma; “Too many cloud players and cloud technologies are here today, gone tomorrow. The CompTIA Cloud Trustmark+ acts as a seal of approval that channel partners can trust and cloud vendors and distributors should definitely pursue.”

Chris’ point has been communicated by many others in the Cloud Community’s discussions since the group’s inception, and will surely reverberate for years to come. Regardless of your role in the channel, start asking more about infrastructure and security procedures, and continue to push for improvement. Over time, we can take some of the mystery out of cloud services. Working together, we can do it faster.