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Analysis: Users driving security consolidation

When unified threat management (UTM) appliances were launched onto the market it gave the first hint that customers were looking for consolidation of their security applications.

The problem was, of course, that with even the average company having about 15 different products the UTM, which typically offers about eight, was never going to be enough to cover everything.

But with large enterprises potentially having as many as 35 different products, each demanding management, license fees and having their own interfaces, it was perhaps inevitable that consolidation would emerge as a theme in the security market.

Nick Lowe, head of Western European sales at Check Point, believes that the demand for consolidation is happening now and resellers will have to start to react to the changing landscape.

"Customers are not just looking to reduce their costs, but want ways to reduce the complexity and one of the ways to do that is to consolidate it," he says.

He adds that the desire for consolidation was identified a year ago, but the message from users has got louder in the past few months and now some of their partners are hearing it loud and clear.

"The desire is to consolidate and lump into a single security architecture 70% to 80% of their requirements," he adds.

There are other signs in the security industry that vendors are reacting to this need. Sourcefire has launched a technology partner programme to provide a unified management system for a number of applications.

Graham Welch, EMEA managing director at Sourcefire, said that when it talked to customers most were trying to manage multiple applications.

"When you have multiple apps across a network they don't talk to one another," he says. In response Sourcefire has launched its programme to encourage vendors to sign up to using its APIs, so that their systems can all be managed easily by the user.

The programme has kicked off with nine vendors on board, but the intention is to grow that number and provide a route for users looking to pin down the tricky problems of handling numerous applications in times of limited budgets and resources.

"The challenge exists in the security world that you have got a lot of helpful information that should be showed better, and interoperability improves people's lives," Welch says.

Dave Ellis, director of new technologies and services at ComputerLinks, agrees that the time has come for customers to cast an eye over their security estates because of the twin pressures of management and cost of ownership.

But he expects that there will continue to be a place for those pitching products that solve a specific need. "There will always be a requirement for best-of-breed, but if a customer can consolidate then they will look to do that," he says.

Security resellers need to develop an awareness that the consolidation issue is a pressing one for users and, as Lowe says, it is time for many to start thinking about making a choice to work more closely with their vendors to sell deeper and wider in a portfolio which will have the benefit of talking in one voice.

This was first published in September 2010

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