Should IT and Security Integrators Partner?

Author: John Honovich, Published on Jan 23, 2009

I think partnering is a horrible idea made worse by the numerous analysts who continuously promote it. The only viable solution is for integrators to build in-house expertise in both skill sets. 

As an integrator, here are the 3 main problems I found in partnering:

  • Conflict about who is in charge of the project
  • Coordination problems between the two partners
  • Uncompetitive costs arising from multiple parties

This is inevitable because of 2 fundamental reasons:
  • Companies should never outsource or partner in strategic areas
  • Both security and IT skills are strategic to security integrators

This demands integrators invest and focus on developing end to end expertise. If you do not and try to partner, these are the issues you face:

Conflict

Customers almost always want to award contracts to a single integrator. If a security and IT integrator partner, one will inevitably have to be the prime and the other the subcontractor. The problem is both of these companies usually want to be the prime. Even if they do not demand to be the prime today, you are opening up yourself to future competition from the subcontractor.

Coordination

You are likely to have finger pointing and problems when partnering because IT tasks are deeply intertwined with security projects. This creates problems with time inefficiency as one integrator needs to wait for the other. This also creates issues with troubleshooting as the 'partners' try to figure out who created the problem and who is responsible for fixing it.

Cost

Multiple companies means multiple overheads (multiple project managers, multiple account managers, etc.). Coordination issues means increased time and cost. The net sum is that your costs will be far higher than an integrator who has developed and maintains end to end expertise in house.

To me, this is the same issue with partnering with high voltage electrical contractors. Experience tells me not to do this. Hire your own master electrician and handle all of the complex electrical tasks in-house. 

Conclusion

I recommend not partnering because I believe IT and security skills are both too essential to integrators. Make the investment and reap the benefits of being able to do everything internally.

Similarly, I would recommend end users to avoid integrators who need significant partnerships and subcontractors. You will likely absorb the headaches of poor coordination, finger poiting while paying more money to fund the expenses of multiple companies. Find a single qualified integrator who can manage the whole project end to end.

1 report cite this report:

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