It is often smaller businesses that find themselves in the most confusing and challenging IT security situations, often without dedicated IT resources. Thanks to the popularity of cloud computing, alongside staff who might be working remotely and bringing in their own mobile devices, SMBs are increasingly vulnerable to security threats.
We believe most SMBs could fall into this category. Meanwhile, threats continue to evolve and now all companies – irrespective of size – need complete protection at the end point, gateway and cloud, with regular, reliable updates and continuous support.
Many businesses are looking at outsourced security management, moving the spend from capital expenditure to ongoing maintenance and providing opportunities for the channel.
However, there is still confusion over how to meet customers' needs in this new security environment.
The first option is hosted security, where a reseller puts customer IT security resources in its datacentre, providing the hosting service or management services alongside. This tends to suit smaller resellers and customers, since it does not involve a huge investment in training. The reseller can bundle this into other services to add value.
The next option with outsourced security is providing managed security services. This can incorporate hosted security or involve remote management of customer IT assets. Where a customer already has its own IT security, there may be an opportunity to replace or upgrade its security as part of the sale.
Providing a full management service to the customer can generate good ongoing revenue, and obviously put the reseller in a better position for future sales.
IT security services may be provided via the internet and delivered anywhere a user happens to be. Such a service can be provided from any number of datacentres around the world, which should make meeting SLAs easier.
Unified threat management solutions present inherent challenges. It may be difficult to assess the security promised by pick-and-mix offerings.
As the market consolidates, so do the products. In addition, managing multiple options can be inefficient.
Many service providers are demanding a more complete security offering, integrated into one easily managed appliance. This saves time and training, and is less likely to go wrong, keeping operational costs lower, profits higher, and customers happier.
James Vyvyan is channel director at Sophos
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