Businesses Keep Security High On Their tech Agendas

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Check Point Software Technologies' drive into the SMB market is well-timed. Solution providers say data security remains a high priority among businesses of all sizes.

Last year's onslaught of malicious code, such as Code Red and Nimda, and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks pushed security to the top of businesses' IT spending agendas. That stands to continue this year, said Duncan Alexander, vice president and principal at Alexander Open Systems, Lenexa, Kan.

"Before, [security was not even in the budget. There were no line items for security," Alexander said. "Now we're seeing that not only is it being planned for, but more importantly [businesses are getting specific and are budgeting for managed security or intrusion-detection systems."

Sanjay Kalra, senior partner at Icons, North Brunswick, N.J., said he sees the same trend.

"The market is much more educated. [Businesses understand the need for security," Kalra said. "There used to be a time when we had to spend quite a bit of time on education. The Sept. 11 events and Code Red, Nimda and many other events in the past year just raised the bar."

Network security assessments and intrusion-detection technology are among the security offerings in high demand, according to solution providers.

Robert Cohen, president and CEO of CGAtlantic, said the New York-based systems integrator's new business efforts are tied to security. "Right now, people are spending on security because they have to. It's important to them," he said.

Still, some security vendors,including Check Point, RSA Security and SonicWall,said their first-quarter earnings suffered because the recession forced some companies to tighten their IT spending. "What's happening right now, because of the economy, is that people are buying less than what they need," said Check Point President Jerry Ungerman.

Though Check Point's VAR partners are busy with projects, the sales cycles are longer and the deals are smaller, Ungerman noted. "We're finding that customers are very cautious right now," he said. "That's why we see a high level of activity but not a lot of real business right now,not as high as some people expected."

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