Netgear Launches Subscription Security For SMBs

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Specifically, Netgear is aiming to provide the SMBs with solutions that have typically been used in larger market segments with the release of its new ProSecure Security Threat Management Series of Web and E-mail Management Appliances.

The STM 150, geared for 50 to 150 users, is currently available on the market through Netgear channel partners, while the STM300, geared for 150-300 users, and the STM600, designed for up to 600 users, will be available during the second quarter 2009.

The solution is sold as an appliance but updated with relevant threat information from the cloud -- a service that is offered to end user customers through a subscription.

Partners say that kind of hybrid appliance/service model is more palatable to SMB customers who are considering integrating managed services components into their security infrastructures.

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"[In the past] we tried to sell managed services and we failed miserably," said Armando Garcia, president of Dicar Networks. "We have to sell a piece of hardware or get a transaction with the customer first. Once you get some kind of transaction, then the trust and confidence start building."

In light of increasingly sophisticated malware targeting the Web, the STM series appliance was designed as an answer to security challenges that come with increased reliance on Web applications for daily business, Netgear executives say.

"In SMBs, everything is all wide open. Nobody has the time to control policies. Let's not kid ourselves. That's not going to change in the near future," said Jason Leung, Netgear senior product line manager for SMB security.

Netgear has also partnered with antivirus and antimalware company Kaspersky Lab and e-mail security vendor Commtouch, which provide Web and e-mail scanning technology engines that work in parallel with Netgear's heuristic engines to monitor customers' security threats remotely.

The comprehensive STM Web and e-mail solution represents a "change of philosophy" for Netgear, which has typically been known for its hardware storage and networking solutions for SMBs, execs say.

"This represents Netgear taking that [managed service] business model and marrying it with high-value desktop software," Leung said.

But going forward, the STM appliances will enable partners to broaden their customer base with an expanded set of offerings, execs say. They will also allow partners to embark on the managed services bandwagon by offering security scanning and management services on a subscription basis -- a move that could be a big jump for many of Netgear's existing VARs.

"It's relevant to say that the majority of Netgear VARs are not used to selling high-end top-shelf security solutions," Leung said.

However, execs maintain that the company is providing comprehensive training for existing Netgear partners following the launch, which includes online training and certification programs. And execs say that ultimately they hope to recruit hundreds to thousands of new partners to the company to incorporate the STM solutions into their managed services portfolios.

What makes the STM series particularly attractive for the SMB segment, execs say, is that it offers a simplified licensing model, with three licenses to manage for Web, e-mail, and maintenance and support, but without complicated per-user restrictions.

And partners maintain it's also easy to deploy, without the need to reconfigure mail servers or Web proxies. Altogether, the STM line includes enterprise-level antimalware and antispam engines, zero hour threat protection and an enterprise-class URL filter, along with 24x7 technical support.

Dicar Networks' Garcia said that he was most attracted to the antispam component for his SMB customer base, which he said provided a better quality alternative to primary vendors at an affordable price for his customers.

"The cost effectiveness comes in the deployment," Garcia said. "We can deploy it in a half-hour or less."

Leung said that unlike their enterprise counterparts, SMBs often have open use and access policies to ensure a smooth workflow. At the same time, SMB companies face the same security threats as enterprise companies, but often lack the resources and experienced staff to adequately protect themselves with high-end point solutions the same way larger companies can.

"If we accept that SMBs have open-use policies, at the end of the day, an SMB has the exact same security threats as the enterprise," Leung said. "[Hackers] attack everybody. You can't dumb down the security solutions."