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What are considerations for VARs offering managed security services?

Providing consulting and VAR services is a vastly different business model than that of a managed security service provider. Not understanding the risks that come with offering such services can put both your business and your customer's business in jeopardy.

The managed security service provider business is hot. What should a VAR consider when thinking about offering managed security services?

Providing consulting and VAR services is a vastly different business model than that of a managed security service provider. Not understanding the risks that come with offering such services can put both your business and your customer's business in jeopardy.

Your ability to transition from a product/solutions provider to a service company is critical. You will have to forge new partnerships and deploy new technologies. If done correctly, however, providing managed security services can pay off incredibly well due to high margins, low operational effort and a recurring revenue stream.

Managed security service providers live and die by their ability to maintain service levels and engage proactively in defending customers against threats whether or not the customer knows of them. This includes internal and external security threats. Managing a service is as much about art as it is science, and besides the security efficacy of the solutions you plan to offer as a service, your ability to scale and manage them is an enormous challenge.

One way to enter the managed security service provider business is to outsource the management of existing security technologies you may already have deployed for a customer. Start with what you know and grow from there.

Providing managed security services is about virtualizing security services across customer sites, so it's crucial to maintain stability while also providing flexibility and customizability. Picking the right solution partners is so very critical. In many cases, the customers are buying into your solution vendor's brand as much as they are your own.

This was last published in November 2007

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