When asked why he robbed banks, Willie Sutton supposedly responded, "because that's where they keep the money." In today's saturated security market -- in regard to both security product vendors and resellers -- the natural consolidation of both technology and solution providers means that competition for named accounts and big-ticket items is fierce, so we "go where the money is." Hence SMB security.
In many instances, given the requirements for national or international reach in catering to larger organizations, smaller regional integrators and vendors find themselves moving downstream to SMB customers. This is because the economic and operational requirements of those customers are very tight, but also very well-defined and achievable.
This translates to backpressure on security vendors to build solutions that also move downstream to accommodate these less-demanding requirements at lower price points, all the while ensuring that these SMB security solutions also offer more bang-for-the-feature buck.
Unified threat management (UTM) is a classic example of this phenomenon. Instead of creating and selling individual best-in-breed firewalls, intrusion prevention services (IPS), antivirus and URL filters to a customer from different vendors, we have a single appliance that does it all at a very attractive price point.
UTM was born out of the requirement for security vendors to relieve management and cost pain by consolidating many features down to a single platform. After the best-in-breed early adopters and initial providers of solutions surface in a specific market, the solutions generally drift down market as the need expands. Vendors are often happy to oblige.
Open source solutions have also driven the business model and cost structures down. They have also caused security vendors who wish to appeal to SMBs to take a serious look at the value delivered with a fully supportable open source solution.
The SMB accounts represent a tremendous opportunity for service and managed service businesses. By leveraging solutions designed specifically for this market that are easy to manage, deploy and support, it's a win-win scenario.
This was first published in April 2008