Are Managed Services The Best Way To Deliver Security?

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IT security is a constantly moving target. As the threat landscape continues to evolve on an hour-by-hour basis, channel partners are weighing the very real possibility that managed services may be the best strategy for keeping their customers safe.

The case is particularly compelling in the SMB segment, and it grows stronger as partners consider best practices for protecting smaller clients. In most cases, these are organizations that are as interested in managing costs as they are in keeping their systems and data secure. But, according to Gartner security analyst Lawrence Pingree, enterprise players are no stranger to managed security either, albeit for different reasons.

"In the high-end enterprise, managed services are engaged when a particular form of security control is believed to be more commoditized," he said. "If you have in-house resources and you wish them to pay closer attention to the more advanced security technologies, then outsourcing the more commoditized technologies to managed service providers has become a popular option. They also engage managed security in places where they can offload the care and feeding of specific functions."


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"The midmarket is more squeezed for resources," he continued. "They engage managed services to augment staff, as opposed to an opportunity to redirect resources that they've already got. At the low end, small businesses typically have very little in-house security expertise available to them. So managed security becomes very helpful to them, especially if they have compliance requirements to satisfy."

Meanwhile, market research from Gartner clearly reinforces the notion that managed security is gaining industry momentum. According to Pingree's report, the growth rate for managed security is more than double that of the rest of the security industry without managed services in the equation.

"We expect managed security services to represent $10.9 billion of spend in 2013, extending to $17.7 billion in 2016 with compound annual growth rate through the period of 16.8 percent," he said. "We expect managed security to grow 15.9 percent in 2013 alone."

Gartner expects the overall security industry, including managed security, to grow at an 8.9 percent compound annual growth rate from 2011 through 2016, representing an increase from $60.6 billion to $85.6 billion.

"The managed security services segment is growing its 16.8 percent CAGR," he said. "That's the highest growth rate in security. The average growth rate for security is 6.9 percent, if you take managed security services out of the equation. So it's more than double the average growth rate for the rest of security."

Pingree also sees channel partners recognizing this opportunity and leveraging it to the fullest extent, whenever possible. He suggests that many partners are leveraging the offers of other providers while at the same time finding creative ways to differentiate themselves and maintain customer stickiness.

"There is obviously a transition underway from a capital expense-based deployment to an operating expense-based service engagement," he said. "So the partners who used to sell products are now turning increasingly towards a service orientation. Sometimes they leverage service catalogs from distributors or cloud service brokers, such as Jamcracker. But in order to gain additional revenue, they need to add their own services and points of differentiation into the equation."

NEXT: The View From The Channel

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