Brian Reed | September 14, 2010
My entire IT career, I have been solely focused on building, positioning and selling security products. I have been continually asked over the years to help prospects and customers to make business cases or present facts based upon their business drivers as to why they should buy/change a particular product. Since coming onboard at Solutionary, I have had a very similar question from prospective customers to "make the business case" for managed security services.
Realizing I could write a book on this topic alone, I wanted to simply present two points as to why MSSP makes more business sense than trying to acquire/grow/retain IT security talent internally in your organizations.
1. All security products are actually pretty equal.
This is actually a pretty bold statement, and no product vendor will ever openly admit this. Certainly some vendors do a better job than others at manageability and scalability of their products, but by and large most security products are fairly equal in their security coverage and basic features (the differences is in their security contact backed by research, and their speed/accuracy in delivering the end result to market). However, many security technologies could certainly be considered "commodity" technologies, and I would include endpoint anti-malware security, network IDS/IPS, network firewalls, email security and web security.
When was the last time someone switched firewall vendors primarily due to the technology? In fact, firewall migrations from one platform to another, are largely attributed to business drivers, such as Company A merges/acquires Company B, where Company B uses Firewall Y where A uses Firewall X. Endpoint security works the same way - typically whoever has the greater incumbent footprint wins, since touching each endpoint for a migration from one vendor to another is painful. Switching products could also result from a product vendor’s maintenance renewal being too expensive, or a competitor running a specific promotion to displace a competitive product.
If we can agree that all security products are more or less equal, why wouldn't you have a third-party monitor/manage this for you? Let a trusted MSSP worry about training costs, and those hidden switching costs if your business changes result in a technology shift? Seems to make a lot more sense than hiring full-time staff to do this, which leads to …
2. How are you going to pay to keep up the products in your environment?
The question most vendor sales reps don't want you to ask (I used to be one). "Forget about the price - so how much is my actual TCO going to be for 3 years, or 5 years?" If you are a vendor sales rep selling a new solution, or one that requires the customer to send people to training, this question hurts. It is a barrier for you to sell your product (especially if it is new or complex, or both), because a customer buying new technology is going to need to train at least one person (preferably 2-3 or more) on your product. That's a lot of capital expense upfront to send people to training, not to mention the time away from supporting the environment and their daily tasks.
As an end-user of security technology, you also need to have a strong grasp of what your own internal employees do today to support your infrastructure. Is your staff focused on the security initiatives you deem critical, or is their attention split between "analysis paralysis" or working on "pet projects" that may or may not be addressing business risk in your environment. Finally, if you have compliance drivers, are you able to get provable metrics and data internally, or should you really be getting this verified by an independent third-party source?
Why wouldn't you employ a MSSP that already has multiple people on staff trained on your new or existing products, and free up your own staff to support security initiatives that you cannot offload to a trusted third-party?
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