Companies turn to partners for managed network security services

Many companies are turning to partners for managed network security services to handle the exhausting responsibility of thwarting threats and attacks.

Enterprise network security strategies must get more sophisticated all the time to keep up with increasingly complex networks. Yet IT departments are often unable to provide the intelligence, time and budget required to assume the network security burden on their own. So channel partners are stepping in with more sophisticated managed network security services to meet this IT business need.

Bill Lipsin, vice president, partners and alliances at Arbor Networks Inc., confirms these intensive changes. He says that threats that were once simple are now highly complex and require a solution that features enterprise network security and intelligence that can be better addressed through managed services.

Network security services: From IPS to anomaly detection

Early on, partners are finding a clear opportunity in selling managed intrusion prevention services (IPS).

Brian Herman, vice president of managed security sales at StillSecure, a managed security services provider, noted that the state of intrusion detection and prevention systems today is that of firewalls 10 years ago.

The company's managed intrusion prevention service detects anomalous, inappropriate or other unauthorized data attempting to enter or leave a customer's network, while also providing comprehensive attack prevention. StillSecure targets organizations of any size with an intense focus on PCI and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) security, including the required audits and reporting.

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"Companies have firewalls, [intrusion detection] and IPS that they must augment with visibility, intelligence and new protections. This isn't about replacing, it's about taking network security to a higher level," Lipsin said.

A common misperception about IPS is that if you've got it, you're secure. However, IPS is no silver bullet especially if it's used in isolation. Security is a puzzle that must be looked at from end to end.

That's what Symantec Corp. aims to do with its Critical System Protection services. "We look at everything we're monitoring," says Mark Guntrip, senior manager with Symantec Managed Security Services. This look into the network includes traffic and behavior anomaly detection within the network.

Creating baselines for anomaly detection helps security experts understand the highs and lows of network traffic, what the traffic is doing, where it goes and who is speaking to whom, for example. Baselines can change and should be revised over time.

Guntrip added that IPS is more than monitoring and managing; it's also about better correlation of actionable data.

Managed network security services offer partners a business edge

About a year ago when Arbor Networks reached out to engage the channel with managed network security services, Lipsin said he got a lot of blank stares. "Six months later, we saw more awareness as they began to understand the value proposition of educating customers about the new threat landscape and the need to do more analysis to bring in the right solution," he said.

Creative Breakthroughs Inc. (CBI) has been focusing on security, risk management and compliance for the past 13 years, and the Symantec partner expects to see its revenue double in 2013 over 2012.

CBI will partially find this growth in providing customers with assessments, and ongoing reporting and monitoring.

"Most companies in regulated industries, particularly finance and health care, don't have the bandwidth to comply with internal audits or external regulators," says Dave Glenn, executive vice president of business development at CBI. According to Glenn, half of the company's MSS business is new and the other half is made up of displaced companies exiting their MSS provider.

Preparation is key for partners selling managed network security services

Preparedness on both the sales and technical fronts is vital for channel partners that want to be successful in offering managed network security services. Some advice for channel partners when considering selling these services includes:

  • Look at your existing business model and find providers that are a match for what you're doing.
  • Make a commitment to understand how adding MSS and IPS will fundamentally change your business.
  • Understand the value of MSS in regards to a revenue stream and its ability to allow you to stay continually connected to customers.
  • Get your staff trained so they can confidently speak to customers and become true business advisers.

The goal for channel partners is to understand how to make managed network security services impactful and responsive to evolving regulations and business changes for customers, while creating a steady revenue stream.

This was first published in December 2012

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