Patch/Configuration Management, Vulnerability Management

Growing number of SMBs going ‘in the cloud’

On-demand security services, or "in the cloud" services, refer to security technology that is managed from a central location and delivered over the Internet, eliminating the need for small to medium sized businesses (SMBs) to deal with the high costs of hardware deployment, software upkeep and future scalability.

Industry research from IDC predicts the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) market will experience a 21 percent compound annual growth rate during the next three years, reaching $10.7 billion worldwide by 2009.

It can be confusing for SMBs to make decisions on whether to deploy hardware, which requires additional space in the server room, or software that requires constant updates and additional hard drive space on servers. Both solutions are changing daily and must accommodate business flexibility and scalability. Many SMBs do not have the IT resources available to spend substantial time and money worrying about network security.

On-demand security services help alleviate many of the pain points of today's cost-conscious and overworked CTO, IT administrator or small business owner. The network security service is instantly on, reliable and continuously updated by its provider. On-demand security services can help alleviate some major pain points of IT personnel, such as the time spent on traditional email filters, updating software and manually scanning the network for viruses. While on-demand services do not necessarily give SMBs the opportunity to decrease IT staff, they do give the IT department the freedom to spend more time on projects that will help the business grow, versus reacting to security threats.

By deploying an on-demand security service, SMBs are given enterprise-class network security, collaboration and business continuity, including email, instant messaging (IM), web filtering, hosted office and archiving, without the high cost and resources required to manage hardware and software.

Key benefits of on-demand services include:

  • Ease of deployment and management: Once customers subscribe to a specific on-demand service, it can be deployed in minutes, without purchasing or installing any software or hardware on site. All services can be accessed and managed anywhere and anytime, whether employees are connected centrally or remotely to the network. Customers receive enterprise-class IT services by the slice, delivered just how they need it to meet their IT security needs.
  • Always-on message archiving: Email and instant messages can be archived without any equipment, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. As corporate and federal compliance requirements increase, hosted solutions give companies the security that messages will never be lost.
  • Maximizes IT resources: With on-demand services, SMBs can limit the amount of IT support that is needed to manage security on the network.
  • Increases employee productivity: The distractions of email spam, non-sanctioned internet and IM abuse can amount to hours of lost productivity. With backend 24/7 on-demand security services, SMBs can stop spam, set up Internet usage policies and close known network security holes, giving employees the tools they need to successfully meet business goals.
  • Focus remains on business: On-demand services give SMBs the opportunity to keep a laser focus on their business, without having to worry about the expense and complexity of dealing with network security. Since these type of security services are hosted off-site, the overall cost is significantly less than hardware or other software deployments.

New security threats are emerging each day, and using internal IT resources to battle them can be costly and time consuming. More and more SMBs are beginning to use on-demand services as a way to increase their network security, while reducing the amount of work that traditionally has to be done internally.

Just as companies are starting to see the benefits of on-demand services, the number of vendors in the space is increasing. Organizations have a tough choice when deciding on a vendor they can trust to handle their security, but there are some basic guidelines that should be followed. Any SME interested in deploying hosted security services should make sure they do an extensive investigation into the vendor's reputation, services offered, market specialization, current customer base and key partnerships. All of these areas should be met with high marks before a decision is made to move forward with a purchase.

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