This week Russ Cummings, head of the software practice at 3i, looks at the rapidly growing market of integrated security.
Market watcher and analyst IDC recently reported that the worldwide market for IT security and business continuity products and services is growing twice as fast as the overall IT industry.
By 2006, this market is expected to surpass $150bn (£92bn). This one bright light in an atmosphere of caution is encouraging, but where in the industry will the growth come from?
Research shows that, globally, organisations are demanding more simplicity from electronic security solutions and services.
IT researchers Giga recently stated there are more than 400 IT security vendors/providers around the world. With some of those vendors offering one or more services or solutions each, and some offering many, many more, the number of products on the market is vast.
This, coupled with emerging and future solutions to combat up-and-coming threats, creates a mind-boggling set of options for the chief technology officer (CTO).
It is not only the plethora of solutions and services that are causing confusion for organisations.
Many businesses, particularly larger enterprises, have been addressing specific IT security issues for a number of years.
For example, when a company wanted to protect against viruses, it implemented one or more antivirus solutions. Similarly, the same organisation may have deployed a firewall to keep the network secure from intruders, and a virtual private network to ensure a high level of privacy.
Add to this a range of content security, access control, intrusion detection and authentication products, and you have a huge task to manage and administer across a multi-geographical, complex organisation.
The management and integration of these products and solutions is creating an administrative pain, and has the potential to expose an organisation rather than protect it.
The security industry is not making it as easy as it could be for the customer.
The CTO knows that the piecemeal method of implementing e-security solutions is not a strategic way to exploit an organisation's IT investment.
By not considering how their products relate to others, both now and in the future, vendors are being very short-sighted. Customers want a streamlined, simplified solution that works across the organisation.
A future security trend is integration. Smaller companies do not want big bespoke software; the key is whether it can integrate with existing systems.
The US has certainly been focusing on the integration area, and this looks set to continue over the next few years.
A survey conducted by AMR Research predicted that IT budgets for 2003 and 2004 will grow by a modest 2 per cent. But security and infrastructure integration applications will be much more of a focus this year compared with previously, it said.
While a saturated market and customer demand for simplicity are key drivers in this industry-wide push for integration, what other elements are contributing to this growing area?
Customers are increasingly looking for solutions that are 'future-proofed'. Products and services that will integrate with a future IT infrastructure are becoming more important than the immediate return on investment requirements we saw from organisations a few years ago.
Businesses are now taking a longer-term view in their security purchasing decisions, selecting products and services that will integrate into their existing infrastructure with ease and are future-proofed for further implementations.
Industry experts are in agreement that integration is going to be vital to a healthy and competitive security industry, but how will this translate in the real world?
Vendor agreement on industry standards and increased interoperability are essential in order to provide the foundation. This drive towards integration is largely dependent on the adoption of common standards in order to facilitate interoperability.
- Treat each customer as an individual. Start with the problem rather than the technology.
- Vendors need to be able to offer products and services that integrate with existing IT systems.
- Unless companies have a very niche offering, they have to be able to integrate into existing and future IT infrastructures.
- How they do this is up to them, but they will be at a serious competitive disadvantage if they do not.
- Alliances and partnerships will be particularly important for developing a more holistic offering for customers.
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