The flipside of most network industry challenges is an opportunity, and that is certainly the case where cyber security is concerned. The rise of threats that are larger and more complex poses challenges for network operators and particularly their enterprise customers, but it also represents a new kind of opportunity for managed security services, and we are already seeing companies move into this space.
Last week's announcement from BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) and Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) is typical of what we're going to see going forward: A global network operator, working with a technology partner, develops a way of better protecting its own network and then turns that capability into a market-facing service it can offer to its enterprise customers. (See BT Taps Cisco for New Security Architecture.)
Managed security services are not anything new. What's important in the New IP is how they are evolving. It gets back to the new favorite word where network security is concerned: architecture.
Ed Amoroso, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s Chief Security Officer, talked about this at Light Reading's Carrier Network Security Strategies Event late last year, and Patrick Donegan, chief analyst at Heavy Reading reinforced the point when chatting with me at the same event. (See Light Reading Asia Newsletter Dec 2, AT&T's Amoroso: Taking Security to the Cloud and In Defense of the Security Team.)
Without going too deep into all the details here, the key point is that security is no longer that wall you build around your valuables or the lock on the safe. It is now a distributed architecture of network intelligence and analytics that is constantly looking at traffic and its behavior and assessing whether there are bad actors at work.
There are multiple moving pieces involved -- one of the key reasons BT chose Cisco as its partner was the ability to integrate those pieces -- and some of those are virtualized assets. In 2016, it will no longer be enough to offer managed security services that just deliver managed firewalls or intrusion detection/intrusion protection systems. The point solutions that worked in the past are inadequate for managed security's future.
This brings a new complexity to creating competitive managed security services but we are already seeing major players -- AT&T, Verizon Enterprise Solutions , BT and Level 3 Communications Inc. (NYSE: LVLT) among others -- step up to address the changes in this market. And all of this is being driven by enterprises that are realizing how hard it is to keep up with the rapid shifts in the threat landscape, and the fact that the bad guys are innovating at a rapid pace and it's no longer enough to just keep plugging the holes as they open up.
These are the same enterprises that want to move as many of their apps and services to the cloud as possible, but realize that this means their connections to the cloud have to be secure and their data -- both in transit and storage -- must be as well.
So we'll get to see, in 2016, how this all plays out and who succeeds in gaining customer trust and delivering on the promise of a truly secure network.
— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading