Massachusetts data encryption mandates and other VAR opportunities

PC Resources president Peter Hirschfeld talks about opportunities arising out of Massachusetts' new data encryption laws and other hot spots and challenges for VARs.

 


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Massachusetts data encryption mandates and other VAR opportunities

Elaine Hom: This is Elaine Hom. I’m here with Barb Darrow, Senior News Director for SearchITChannel.com. We’re going to take a walk inside and meet Peter Hirschfeld, CEO and president of Personal Computer Resources in Braintree, Mass. We’re going to ask him what he thinks some of the hot topics for VARs are.

Barbara Darrow:  Hi, Peter. Thanks for meeting with us today. I’m just curious, when you’re out on the field or talking on the phone with customers, what’s the top-of-mind subject -- maybe not even related to your vendor partners? What’s the primary concern?

Peter Hirschfeld: There are basically three concerns that I’m hearing now: One is having to do with a new law in the state of Massachusetts regarding encryption; that’s very big. Second would be backup and disaster recovery. We’ve had situations in the past -- all solution providers have -- with failed tape backup devices. Customers are pretty tired of tape backup, so they’re looking for disk-to-disk backup with an offsite component. The third issue is more with the integration of handheld devices: iPhones, BlackBerrys, etc.

Darrow: That’s a lot of consumer technology that’s finding its way into businesses.

Hirschfeld: It is.

Darrow: You guys have to keep abreast of that.

Hirschfeld: That’s right.

Darrow: The Massachusetts encryption law that you mentioned; I know there’s technology things you can do, but a lot of that’s probably education on your part, right? Do you have to talk to customers about what this means?

Hirschfeld: There’s a lot of education. We’ve got a presentation put together that we [present at]  various conferences and also, onsite to our customers. There’s a lot of that, but there is technology that needs to be brought to bear to solve some of these problems.

The law deals with things like antivirus; it needs to be up to date. Patching the OS, the applications; they need to be up-to-date. Firewalls; got to have a business-class firewall. Remote monitoring; the firewall needs to be monitored on a regular basis, so in the event there is an intrusion, somebody knows about it. Lastly is the encryption -- that’s an area that not too many solution providers have been involved with to date, so it’s going to be a learning curve for everybody to get up to speed.

Darrow: That’s a lot of opportunity for you, both in product sales and recurring services revenue, correct?

Hirschfeld: It’s a perfect opportunity. It’s absolutely perfect for solution providers.

Darrow: Could you talk just a little bit about the bulk of your customers -- are they small/medium businesses, or do you stretch up into the enterprise, at all?

Hirschfeld: No, we don’t. We stay strictly in small/medium business, if you define that up to 250 employees or users. We’ll get customers as small as a half a dozen users with a server, and we’ve got customers that have 150 users with multiple servers, multiple locations.

Darrow: Finally, on a timely note, Dell just announced plans to buy Perot Systems for almost $4 billion. A lot of the vendors are beefing up their services component. Is that a concern to companies like yours that do a lot of services work?

Hirschfeld: Not to me, at all. Dell is up here at the high level with IBM and HP, and as we talked about before, the ES acquisition by HP, so they’re basically leveling the playing field, if you will. We’re not a big Dell supporter. We’ve worked with HP for many years and that’s our preferred platform.

Darrow: Great. Thank you for taking the time with us today.

Hirschfeld: You’re welcome.

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