Global Business Solutions & WatchGuard Bring Cybersecurity to Local College
Global Business Solutions (GBS) turns technology into a competitive advantage, solving business problems by deploying only the highest performing technologies. Since 1995, GBS has been focused on accelerating their customers’ businesses throughout the Greater Cincinnati area. GBS now provides solutions for IT, Telephony, Physical Security, Audio/Video and Cabling, as well as a robust managed service offering.
Towards the end of 2017, GBS President Gaby Batshoun saw a need within the post-secondary education community to help students studying cybersecurity and information technologies at his alma mater, Northern Kentucky University/NKU. “The NKU program has been nationally recognized for their cybersecurity program, and as a Managed IT Service provider, I wanted to expose NKU’s College of Informatics students to WatchGuard firewall technologies – the same technologies we specify and configure for our small-to-midsized clients. I wanted to help NKU students develop this specialized knowledge and experience,” Batshoun explains.
GBS reached out to their longtime partner, WatchGuard, to see if they would be interested in developing a program to provide their technology designed for SMBs specifically to academic institutions like NKU. “We’ve been working with WatchGuard for over 20 years and we use their technology to support our SMB customers every day. I knew if we could get them involved in this program, we would really be able to provide value to our community and the students at NKU,” Batshoun continues.
WatchGuard Initiative for Security Education An education program was something that WatchGuard had been working to formalize for some time and having a trusted partner like GBS involved helped the organization solidify the final details.
“Our team in France was already working on providing WatchGuard solutions to academic institutions with their partners and we’ve heard this request from other partners around the world. We started piloting a program in 2018 with partners like GBS to get our solutions into these educational environments in a way that empowered students and helped partners engage with their communities,” explains Brendan Patterson, VP of Product Management at WatchGuard.
In early 2020, WatchGuard officially launched their education program, the WatchGuard Initiative for Security Education or WISE. “The WISE program is truly a partnership between WatchGuard, our partners, and qualifying academic institutions. WatchGuard offers our entire portfolio – including network security, multi-factor authentication and secure Wi-Fi solutions – for partners to leverage with the schools they sponsor,” Patterson explains. “But for WISE to be successful, we knew we needed the expertise of our partners. They work directly with their schools to build curriculums, provide support, share knowledge, even offer training. With our partners really at the core of WISE, they’re able to make direct and lasting impact in the communities they serve.”
Bringing WISE to NKU The first academic institution that GBS brought into the WISE program was NKU. GBS supports the university by providing technical assistance with configuration and helping the teaching staff develop a working knowledge of the WatchGuard solutions. “Our Cybersecurity Team competes across the country and has had a lot of success. Working with GBS offers the team new technologies like WatchGuard and provides immense benefit, giving them even more tools to learn from,” explains Dr. Yi Hu, who supervises the team at NKU. GBS has also been invited to address the students participating in the program and to develop interest in the paid internship program they’ve developed with the school.
“With our internship program, we can continue training the students on WatchGuard technologies and help them develop a real-world expertise. At the end of the program and after graduation, our hope is that these students are ready to hit the workforce and make an impact on whichever company they’re supporting,” Batshoun explains.
WatchGuard is continuing to expand the WISE program and actively looking for eligible WatchGuardONE partners and qualifying academic institutions. “We’ve clearly seen success in this program with GBS and NKU – and we want to make it available to academic institutions around the world. We can’t fight the cybersecurity skills gap alone. But the help of our partners and these engaged institutions gives us a way to help educate and empower the next generation of cybersecurity professionals,” explains Patterson.
To learn more about the WISE program, please visit www.watchguard.com/WISE.