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Cybersecurity-as-a-service: opportunity or threat for channel partners?

Ed Baker, Senior Director EMEA Partners at McAfee, discusses the opportunity for agile MSPs to meet a clear customer need for cybersecurity-as-a-service.

The uncomfortable truth is that despite increases in security education and technology spending, data breaches continue to soar. In fact, recent research from McAfee revealed that 47% of UK IT professionals have experienced at least one breach at their current employer, and 70% of all breaches in the UK require public disclosure – putting brand reputation and business viability at risk.

Against this backdrop, many organisations are looking for ways to implement more sophisticated security but with fewer resources – and turning to as-a-service models as a result. Managed security services are growing in popularity for many of the same reasons that businesses are opting for public cloud infrastructure with the likes of AWS and Microsoft Azure, rather than hosting privately.

Put simply, they can scale and tweak service according to demand and the growth of the business, without investing in expensive hardware that would need to be updated and maintained.

As well as these valuable savings in capital expenditure costs, outsourcing security services is also a way to address the staffing challenges that are still prevalent in the industry. A Cybersecurity Ventures report estimates there will be 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs by 2021. In this context, many organisations, particularly SMEs and midsized businesses, are finding it difficult to staff in-house security roles. As a result, the as-a-service model is an appealing option. With the MSP taking care of the more mundane security needs, the internal team can focus its efforts on the most critical tasks.

In the next 5-10 years, we’ll see even more customers looking to buy cybersecurity services from partners. This is reflected in research by Kaseya, stating that nearly a fifth (19%) of managed service providers have listed cybersecurity services as their top IT problem this year. Security was also found to be the most lucrative service for MSPs, above more traditional offerings such as infrastructure monitoring and desktop support.

Channel organisations are recognising this opportunity, with many setting off now in the race to build out their managed service provider cybersecurity capabilities as soon as possible in order to meet this shift in priorities.

There has been much talk in recent years of traditional reseller and VAR models being threatened by increased cloud adoption and falling hardware prices. However, this new channel landscape presents a clear opportunity for agile MSPs to meet a clear customer need for cybersecurity-as-a-service.

In an increasingly crowded marketplace, there are several approaches that channel partners can take to differentiate themselves. As always, customer intimacy is key, and MSPs are often trusted as much for their security insights and expertise as they are for their technology.

The cybersecurity-as-a-service model gives partners the opportunity to position themselves as strategic partners who are trusted to give advice, make recommendations and be at the cutting edge of research to stay one step ahead of the cybercriminals.

This is the key to moving beyond a purely transactional partnership and towards a long-term relationship that is beneficial for both sides.

This article is part of PCR’s Security Sector Spotlight – in association with 

For more security-themed articles, click here

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