Verizon Business and McAfee have announced a partnership to develop a cloud-based security software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering as part of a wide-ranging deal. The agreement places two leading players in a strong position to exploit a future market in which enterprises will demand technology in a range of formats including cloud-based SaaS, traditional managed services and products. The common technology base across the range enables interoperability between these offerings so that businesses can exploit the flexibility of the utility computing model.
Vendors must adopt new approaches to delivering services and technology
The economics of shared software services have created a lot of interest in the concept of cloud computing, along with significant uptake. While this market is still nascent, now is the time for vendors to establish their position in it.
Enterprises want simplicity in IT environments. They want to be able to mix in-house and outsourced operations, and to be able to burst operations into service environments at times of exceptional demand. In both cases they want to find familiar products and processes that are common across their own data centres and the service environments. The need to rationalise software procurement crosses internal and external domains. Vendors therefore need to establish business relationships with providers that are delivering cloud-based services in order to secure their existing product sales as well as to be able to address new markets.
The politics of these partnerships will become complicated as the largest vendors such as IBM and Microsoft build their own cloud service offerings. While some service providers will resell vendor offerings, larger ones will want to provide a broader and coherent service platform under their own brand. The likely outcome is that the service providers will become the kingmakers in the scramble to build partnerships with vendors and cloud service providers.
Cloud-based services are different to managed services
The SaaS delivery model is very different from the established managed security service model.
The latter provides security for an enterprise managed remotely from the operations centre of the service provider. This is usually delivered using equipment in the customers premises that is controlled using a secure VPN link. In a minority of cases the security will be provided in the service providers operations centre and there will be a clean pipe connection to the customer. In either case the customer receives an individually configured and managed service. These services appeal to organisations where they can share the services of security experts with a small number of similar organisations. They avoid the cost of employing the security experts exclusively, but the service is still bespoke and relatively high cost.
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