Managed services the talk of TechSec

Thursday, February 26, 2009

DALLAS--The buzz at TechSec Solutions this year was, of course, all about convergence. It has for five years been the place where people have talked about the merging of IT and physical security, both through culture and technology. However, many panelists in the show's educational sessions also spent plenty of time talking about the advent of the "as-a-service" model (security as a service or SaaS as it has become known, for example), and assured those in attendance that it was the future of the industry, as it is the present of the IT industry.

Axis Communications general manager Americas, Fredrik Nilsson; Brivo president Steve VanTill; and Secure-i, Inc. IT director Andres Armeda comprised the panel for a day one session entitled "Security as a Service: The Next Wave of Integrated IP-based Monitoring," during which the three offered reasons for moving into IP, converging your technologies and people, and offering a wider variety of managed services to end users.

Nilsson pointed out that when TechSec started out five years ago, the "as a service" model was just beginning to gain in popularity through software-as-a-service applications such as email services like Hotmail and Gmail. Technology, said Nilsson had changed a lot in the last 20 years and would continue to change and drive the growth of managed services that dealers could offer. "IP and surveillance and IP and convergence was in its beginning, and now it's very much real," Nilsson said. "I think what we're going to see here today is that security as a service, in a similar way is, very much in its beginning here this year, and we're going to see great development over the next couple years." Nilsson also warned security professionals that they had competition and provided a list of international telcos providing various managed services to their end users.

"All of these telcos are running hosted services to their customers. Why are they interested in this? Well, they don't come from the security industry, but obviously they have a relationship with the customer already," Nilsson said. "They are providing the bandwidth to them, and they're trying to sell more services for the customers to use more bandwidth."

VanTill pointed out one of the most important aspects of offering managed services was the cost angle. "The first [reason], which is, again, particularly relevant right now, given the way the global economy is, is that it transforms a capital expense to an operational expense," VanTill said. VanTill also warned while adoption could be slow, due to end user distrust of third-party control of personal data, perseverance and responsibility would overcome. "If you take a look at your personal life--look at email--you're not really concerned with what Google's doing with your data ... It's a matter of trust. It really goes back to establishing a reputation as a service provider."

Armeda talked about different drivers for the growth of SaaS. "A large increase in bandwidth, plus a drop in pricing is pushing growth," Armeda said. Armeda insisted there were three main reasons SaaS was attractive: "It's easy, it's affordable, and it's effective." Armeda did concede storage cost was an issue in the way of wider adoption but noted storage costs, like other costs, were coming down.

Rob Hagens, CTO of Envysion, emphasized many of these points in day two's "Technology Lightning Round." He agreed that things would and should move more and more toward managed services, as the decreased total cost of ownership benefits the customer and the increase recurring revenue benefits the integrator and installer. "Everything becomes very easy when things become software-centric."