Securing the end point [ITP.net (United Arab Emirates)]
(ITP.net (United Arab Emirates) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Endpoint Security – an approach to network protection that requires any device on a corporate network to comply with specific standards before access is given – has come into its own in the increasingly complex infrastructure of the 21st-century enterprise.
With the growing strategic acceptance of BYOD, the ability to manage a diverse set of endpoints centrally, including firewall and anti-virus software updates, has a strong appeal for hard-pressed security and network managers.
"Endpoint security offers the last level of defence against cyber-attacks by providing security and data protection to end users," said Sébastien Pavie, regional sales director, MEA at data protection specialist SafeNet.
According to Gartner the global market for consumer security software reached $4.89bn in 2102, matched by an enterprise endpoint protection platform market worth £3.17bn – suggesting a healthy appetite for ICT security management products, and a lively market place for the channel.
"In the Middle East, as employees become more mobile, the need for endpoint security is increasing as well," said Pavie. "The security appliance market recorded year-on-year growth in MEA in both customer revenue and shipments during the second quarter of 2013, according to IDC. As enterprises start to see more advanced threats, security is one of the most significant emerging segments of the IT sector."
The enterprise network today no longer sits within four secure walls, agreed Osama Al-Zoubi, country lead and senior SE manager at Cisco KSA. Today's employees demand access to enterprise resources via more media than ever – personal laptops from their home networks, tablets and smartphones.
"Mobility is a real game-changer, and enterprise networks need to grant access to this mobile workforce to keep employees productive," said Al-Zoubi. "However, the shadow of security threats, data breaches and the subsequent effects on the company still looms large."
Al-Zoubi said distributed security point solutions are increasingly unsustainable, given current enterprise computing trends.
"Maintaining network security and operational efficiency in today's distributed enterprise networks demands new technology that takes a more holistic approach to network access security," he said.
"The appeal of virtual desktops is definitely growing, with businesses and organisations increasingly moving towards an endpoint where all intelligence, operating systems and applications are running in the data centre. This requires centralised security solutions and results in significant cost reductions, ease of operation and unified security policies."
Cisco's Identity Services Engine (ISE) is an example of the next-generation of identity and access control policy platforms that are emerging to help enterprises to enforce compliance, enhance infrastructure security and streamline service operations – an area that represents a major opportunity for VARs and systems integrators, particularly at the SME end of the market.
"We don't believe that security is merely a transactional, commodity offering, as each enterprise requires its own custom-designed set off security policies and technology to ensure information is managed both securely and efficiently," said George Galica, head of business solutions at Vodafone Qatar.
"Just like with any security product, a certain level of specialisation is required for an effective implementation. For resellers, the biggest opportunities lie in the SME channel.
"We're seeing an enormous uptake of mobile communications in this space, particularly as traditional forms of communication are being eclipsed by 3G and 4G smart devices, along with high-speed fixed solutions. It's important for resellers working in the SME channel to embrace the importance of mobile security policies and the inclusion of security solutions across multiple operating systems and platforms."
At security software specialist Sophos, director pre sales Mike Goedeker said the whole issue of security is a cat and mouse game in which the expertise of people is crucial. He painted a challenging picture of a deceptively complex market in the region, which is about much more than the centralised management of anti-virus and encryption packages.
"Security has always been a tough or difficult sale because it is complex in general," he said. "The question is, who to trust and what to buy. Piecemeal and individual tools are usually sold by niche companies that may not have a complete story or are best-of-breed in that area, so there will always be a degree of these solutions being sold."
But Goedeker said the arrival of new attack vectors and cyber threats should be forcing suppliers and customers to look at the bigger picture. And that means taking a more united approach and being less distracted by various combinations of suites and margins – a tough shift in mindset for the average reseller.
"I believe we need to reset realistic expectations for customers and channel partners as to what level of research, development and security are possible for a certain price," he said. "Development and education are very important when faced with new and more complex threats. You cannot secure your yard with a fence made from toothpicks."
So trust, knowledge and experience are the weapons that resellers should be stockpiling.
"The more of these that a reseller has, the bigger the difference they can make to customers," said Goedeker. "Security is about understanding how business works, the processes and technology. Then it is about implementing a complete solution that is transparent to users and makes the right trade-off between usability and security."
At security tools vendor Kaspersky Lab Middle East, general manager Khalid Abu Baker pointed out that IDC has identified the purchasing of suites of multiple security tools as one of the major trends in endpoint security. This approach – embodied in the vendor's Endpoint Security for Business platform - gives customers a complete set of anti-malware protection and application control tools, system management, data encryption and Mobile Device Management (MDM), all managed from a single console.
"It is mandatory to have a specialised channel for the enterprise-level customer," said Baker. "That's where we are focusing more in developing the technical capabilities for the channel and introduce new levels of specialisation for our partners. The margins are high, as these customers pay for the value and technical capabilities of our partners."
All of which reinforces the message that resellers should be ramping up their skills.
"Any new service that resellers can add for their customers is important, especially when it comes to retaining enterprise clients who are looking for comprehensive security solutions," said Ray Kafity, regional sales director at another security platform vendor FireEye.
"Resellers need to be able to provide more than just the initial sale service, which is why post-sale support is essential. Training should also be provided on a regular basis from vendors in order to ensure their resellers are up to date with the latest solutions and technology."
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