A global recession, stagnant IT budgets and an uncertain economic future are making 2009 the year for IT security customers to cut costs and increase ROI, according to security solution providers. Those cost-cutting trends were reflected in Everything Channel's 2009 State of Technology: Security survey, which indicated that while customers are still buying security, they're increasingly gravitating toward products and solutions, such as managed services and Unified Threat Management appliances, that increase ROI and add to their bottom lines.
One of the most significant IT security trends is the continued upsurge of managed and hosted security services, which now dominate the majority of solution providers' portfolios. More than 58 percent of surveyed solution providers indicated that the majority of their security revenue comes from services, while the largest portion of solution providers -- nearly 33 percent -- ranked managed services as the single most profitable technology, followed by data loss prevention (26.5 percent) and smartphone and mobile phone security (23.5 percent).
Solution providers also ranked managed services neck and neck with wireless security, at 29.7 percent, as the fastest-growing technology in the next 12 months. Meanwhile, the largest percentage (43.2 percent) ranked managed security services as the high-end solution with the highest returns, followed by Unified Threat Management appliances and data loss prevention technologies.
Solution providers said that they've been having more discussions with customers to determine the different areas of IT that could be outsourced.
"Organizations are seeing this as a method of cost savings," said David Sockol, president and CEO of eMagined Security, Santa Clara, Calif. "Organizations are getting more value from managed services than internal staff because managed services bring a 24x7 return while most organizations operate in an 8x5 capacity."
VARs indicated that the need to cut costs and increase workflow and efficiency will be the strongest drivers of security product sales in the next six to 12 months -- especially those products that house multiple functionalities and products with high ROI. Cutting costs was followed by increasing security threats and the need to adhere to regulatory compliance mandates as the driving reasons behind security purchases.
In light of high-profile breaches such as Princeton, N.J.-based Heartland Payment Systems at the beginning of this year, the majority of VARs ranked data loss and breaches as the No. 1 threat facing customers, followed by internal threats.
Social networking threats, which VARs ranked third, are a new entrant on many VARs' security watch lists. However, they said the continued popularity of social networking sites, such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, as corporate tools will provide a maelstrom of new threat vectors in which hackers can launch malicious attacks with the intention of stealing sensitive data.
VARs and integrators said that the upsurge of social networking attacks has provided them with an opportunity to provide policy management and consulting services for worried customers.
"As more people are connected via their smartphones, I do believe that [social networking threats] are going to be one of the biggest threats in the coming year, and maybe in the coming months," said Darrell Bowman, CEO of AppTech, Cheshire, Conn. "The best thing we can do is monitor and manage them to see what's going on across their network and access issues that they're having. Then we tell them you have to implement education. That's the biggest thing above all: educating the users."