Security vendor Check Point Software Technologies is backing the development of the managed service provider (MSP) security market with the launch of a program designed to bolster the number of MSPs in Australia.
Check Point has targeted the MSP market with remote management products such as Provider-1 for nearly two and a half years. But only recently has managed to sign one MSP in New Zealand - DMZ Global, a subsidiary of consulting company Sytec - under its new MSP program.
However, according to Shelly Houghton, channel business manager at Check Point whose job is dedicated to signing MSPs, the company is reportedly in advanced discussions with two more MSPs in Australia - Citadel and Infrasecure.
Houghton claims the MSP market in Australia has developed from security-oriented network integrators and large outsourcing companies that have "realised they can't manage a network environment without managing security". This contrasts with MSP market development in the US, which is led by large telcos and Internet service providers (ISPs) that, according to Houghton, approached Check Point for a value-add to take to their corporate customers.
Check Point is currently looking to sign MSPs that cater to both the high-end corporate space as well as the SME market, a big growth area for managed security services, Houghton claims.
Despite being confident of the demand for managed security, Houghton recognises it takes a large investment from companies looking to offer these services, including up to $500,000 in infrastructure of software and hardware alone.
"It will also take a while for MSPs to establish trust in the market before they [are permitted] to manage the customer's security," she added.
With the high cost of employing and retaining good IT security staff, plus the complexity of network security in general, the theory behind MSPs appears sound. A company that can offer the latest in 24x7 managed security for corporate customers is the kind of deferral of risk highly sought after by nervous IT managers, in a climate of increasing security attacks.
But Jonathan Barford, sales manager of security specialist integrator and consultancy Kanbay, is concerned that MSPs could run the risk of opening themselves up to possible litigation if the managed security they provide is breached.
While Barford believes the MSP market will grow based on customers' perception that managed security is a deferral of risk, Houghton claims that MSPs partnering with insurance companies is the next phase of managed security. In this way, a MSP covers itself from a litigation perspective while providing network security for its customers.