Nick Verykios, marketing director at Firewall Systems, says managed security provision is a top example of the ability of managed services to provide sophisticated, complex services that a customer would find very difficult to do itself.“Without continued, invisible and comprehensive tuning of threat management devices and applications, all businesses are vulnerable,” Verykios says.Firewall Systems therefore offers “complete” threat management combining a suite of managed services with best-of-breed technology.“These services are only available through our reseller partners and are developed in association with our vendors,” Verykios says. “We are doing this for Network Box, Check Point, Resilience, Trend Micro and WatchGuard.”“We must continually prepare for threats that haven’t even been thought of yet!” he says. Data security has jumped to second place after budget considerations for many IT managers. “It’s no wonder that the Yankee Group predicts that virtually all larger companies will outsource security by 2010,” Verykios says. However, Verykios believes resellers need better skills and should seek partners to help them meet customer demand for threat management solutions that secure the networks, systems and applications -- maybe even the ones they already sell. “For those channel players prepared to evolve and adapt, these are new opportunities,” he says. Perpetual investment in IT security knowledge in-house can bankrupt a reseller. So partnering a non-competing provider that already has that specialist knowledge can be an answer, suggests Verykios. It seems the competition is getting hotter. Seccom Networks has just inked a managed security services deal with SonicWall. Seccom Networks is also seeking resellers to manage the network security of corporate and SMB customers. Colin MacKenzie, chief executive at Seccom Networks, says the partnership let it provide 24x7 technical support and rapid replacement services to new and existing SonicWall clients, while expanding its ability to offer broad-based security to larger clients. “Many of our customers are demanding this type of solution,” Mackenzie says. Seccom is providing managed security via two FortiGate-300 systems and FortiReporter software to the Australian Rugby Union (ARU).The ARU’s system holds sensitive data -- registration details for 160,000 rugby players. Under its previous arrangement, the ARU could “see” traffic from its security supplier’s other customers. It is possible they could read ARU messages as well. That has stopped, and Seccom has curbed the downloading of large files from the internet, such as music, videos and pictures, as well. Now, Seccom looks after the network at a high level while the ARU controls the desktop, which makes the ARU much happier. “That transparency is important to us,” says ARU network manager Greg West. “Much of the IT network security industry tends to operate on a ‘you don’t need to know’ basis. It all blows out traffic costs, which we need to keep to a minimum.” About 70 percent of Seccom’s customers have network security problems, such as virus outbreaks. Yet MacKenzie says Seccom has seen MSSPs fail in trying to manage a multi-vendor environment. Even those with lots of staff find it difficult to master and manage multiple platforms, MacKenzie claims. Where perimeter protection is not appropriate, Seccom partners ISPs to provide “clean bandwidth” pipes to the ISPs’ customers. By supporting virtual domains, these larger systems allow an ISP to offer full security services to multiple customers from single devices, MacKenzie says. Some resellers are taking a more diversified approach. Drew Arthur, director at NSW-based franchise management software developer and managed services provider Micronet, says his company has been working on its hosted business model since 2000. Micronet’s vision is to let SMBs, retail franchises and corporate buying groups divest themselves of servers, application software, backups, intrusion detection, anti-virus and overall data management. “Most SMBs, for example, don’t invest significantly in infrastructure and end up with sub-standard systems that prevent IT developing as a strategic part of their business,” Arthur says. Micronet has worked with the likes of Pirtek and Amber Tiles. It develops and deploys inventory and accounting offerings. “Micronet manages the process with its customers and enables more complex implementations in a faster cycle,” Arthur says.
“This reduces the need to go shopping for a variety of outsourcing arrangements from niche suppliers and then trying to combine them into a practical desktop.” Networking gear vendor 3Com has just unveiled a VoIP, security and infrastructure managed services strategy targeting enterprise and carrier customers. It sees the move as taking advantage of a growing market. Managed service providers would use 3Com products to automate implementation, service configuration and support offerings. Bruce Claflin, chief executive at 3Com, says few vendors are actually enhancing products specifically for managed services. “The capabilities we’re building into our products through our managed services will enable both managed service providers and enterprise end users to streamline, secure and automate their business processes,” he says. Meanwhile, Sun Microsystems has partnered managed services provider Frontline Systems in a three-year deal to support an electronic messaging system for shipping companies Patrick Corporation and P&O Ports. A Solaris-based 1-STOP shipping industry-specific managed service is expected to cut data hosting and cargo management re-engineering compliance costs by half, eliminate most paper transactions regarding cargo and cut network downtime. Shipping, like many industries, is under pressure from new regulatory stipulations. Recent cargo management legislation means stevedores must comply -- a task that gets ever more onerous. Steve Murphy, managing director at Frontline, says the new managed service gives the Melbourne dock 55,000 extra minutes of trucking time. The next development for 1- STOP will be developing a common, internet-based vehicle booking system platform for Patrick Corporation and P&O Ports. “This is an exciting project to host, as 1- STOP is propelling multiple entry systems into the 21st century and helping to eliminate both double entry and human error,” Murphy says. There are caveats. David Taylor, regional director at NetIQ, says any organisation setting up a managed services business must consider at least two fundamental elements. “Firstly, the staff and processes must be in place to deliver a very high level of client service. Secondly, technology tools must be in place to ensure they can deliver on their technical SLAs,” he says. These tools must be aligned with the service to ensure application and network availability and uptime, Taylor says.
Printer maker Lexmark provides managed printing and output solutions. “For many years, Lexmark has been helping organisations develop output strategies of which printer fleet management is an integral component,” a Lexmark spokesperson says.“In Australia and New Zealand, organisations have been using a managed print service (MPS) to control the ongoing costs of a distributed fleet, to drive down costs to improve their bottom line.”Lexmark says the MPS market has been estimated as growing at 25 percent a year.Lexmark’s “distributed fleet management” MPS has resulted in 20 deals with some of Australasia’s larger companies. “Lexmark and its partners have 40,000 devices under maintenance and management contracts,” the spokesperson says.Printing is growing, while copying and faxing -- and possibly scanning too -- are in decline.Organisations, however, are continuing with their large fleets of devices, which must be configured and deployed according to actual work practices. That opens up a chance for the MSP, the Lexmark spokesperson says. Managed services are a form of outsourcing -- a go-to-market strategy that has copped rather a lot of flak. Gartner has predicted that, by 2008, 70 percent of all outsourcing deals will face serious problems that could cut the contracts short. Ten percent will break down completely. Only half will persevere with a solution. Linda Cohen, a US-based managing vice-president at Gartner, says the main causes of failure include a “not-strategic” approach to problems, a lack of innovation or atrophied IT environment, blame-shifting, customer dissatisfaction with price or results and bad management.Providers should watch for “deal paralysis”, she says. That is a situation where unpredictable deal costs lead to unpredictable service and delivery models. Also, vendor “tunnel vision” can lead to poor internal or external collaboration between service providers. The picture can be bleak, she says, but many problems are avoidable and even reversible. Cohen’s prescription is to ensure the “right people and the right processes” are in place, guaranteeing a disciplined approach to multi-sourced service provision. Providers must also clearly articulate how the service meets defined business goals and strictly adhere to a management and governance model. “The third stage involves choosing the right deal to achieve the desired outcome based on an efficiency, enhancement or transformation model,” Cohen says. “Should this be a customised deal, or a standard one?” David Blackman, national VAR sales manager at Symantec Australia, has some very specific tips for selling managed security services. Resellers must make sure they team up with the right vendors. A vendor with offerings across various platforms and who specialises in managed security services might be best, he suggests. “By only supporting one vendor’s platform you will be missing out on incremental revenue opportunities,” Blackman says. Mid-market customers are stretched when it comes to their resources. But he says it is a big mistake to pitch on price. “You need to confidently be able to describe the true value-add. Managed security service costs are not inexpensive,” he says. “Pitch the benefits of outsourcing.” Managed service providers should offer options on pricing, such as longer term contracts, tiered pricing offerings that can be matched with IT spend, or monthly payment programs, he says. “[But] beware of long sale cycles. Forecast sales well in advance,” he says. Resellers should also seek out verticals where regulatory pressures have intensified, and target them. Managed security, for example, can help organisations protect their information assets, Blackman says. According to analyst Frost & Sullivan, Cybertrust is leading the Australian managed security service market with 25.5 percent market share. The global company has done well in Australian government deals, specialising in managed authentication and public key infrastructure services. “By combining the right mix of people, processes and products, Cybertrust has taken the lead not only in Australia, but around the world,” says Paul O’Rourke, Asia-Pacific general manager at Cybertrust. John Mobbs, chief executive at criminal records specialist CrimTrac, said Cybertrust secured its internet, email and web hosting services via a DSD-certified gateway. “We also use Cybertrust’s VPN service to provide secure remote access for key staff and it is a major enhancement to the way we previously struggled with this capability,” Mobbs says.
Issue: 316 | July 2013
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