Adapting to security’s new reality

The cloud has made its way into everyday vocabulary; even non-tech startups and consumers have an awareness of cloud computing and its impact. As it’s shifted the technology landscape, it’s also impacted the security landscape – not just for consumers, but also for cloud service providers, and vendors that deliver through the cloud.

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The best is often the last

Back in 2016, venture capitalist Benedict Evans stated that the best is often the last. He elaborated by saying, "The development of technologies tends to follow an S-Curve: they improve slowly, then quickly, and then slowly again. And at that last stage, they're really, really good. Everything has been optimized and worked out and understood, and they're fast, cheap and reliable."

And while his original post was two years ago, which in technology terms can be a lifetime, it holds true today.

It's worth taking a look at IT security under the same lens. Cynical commentators may state that IT security has never been good - but that isn't true in all cases. In fact, many traditional technologies have been so good and commoditized, that they have become all but invisible to the end user.

But, perhaps what is changing more than the security technologies themselves, is the delivery mechanism. As companies have embraced the cloud, so have many providers, and security is no different.

That's not to say that security appliances don't have their place in enterprises, it's just that they've probably gotten as good as they can get, so it's time to adapt to the new reality.

Innovation or following the trend?

Willie Sutton famously said that he robbed banks because that's where the money is.

Or, as Walter Gretzky famously told his son, "skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been."

So, naturally, security providers are focusing on the cloud because that's where everyone appears to be heading.

Does this make a case of moving security to the cloud just a case of following the trend? Not quite. More often than not, businesses are successful when they understand what their customers are going to want next. Or, as Steve Jobs famously said:

 “Our job is to figure out what they’re going to want before they do. People don’t know what they want until you show it to them. That’s why I never rely on market research. Our task is to read things that are not yet on the page.”

With any shift, or new trend, there will be some businesses that will force products or services to the cloud that may not belong there. But that’s part of the learning process. Fortunately, despite this, there are many benefits for security providers and users alike.

Benefits for users

As companies continue to embrace cloud technologies, it makes sense to have cloud-based security that can provide capabilities across both cloud and on-premise technologies.

Some of the prominent benefits include:

Cost to deploy

With cloud-based offerings, there is no capital expenditure outlay. Users can simply select the type of license, and only pay for what they need, saving time and resources needed to deploy the offering.

Continuous updates and patches

One of the biggest advantages of cloud-based security software is the fact that it is continuously updated and patched by the provider. This relieves the burden of maintenance from users and allows them to focus on the business issues that matter the most.

Integration and scalability

Cloud services by their very nature are designed to be scalable so they can keep up with the flexible demands of businesses. It also provides a stable platform through which integrations with other cloud-based providers can be attained, allowing users to derive increased value from their purchases.

Benefits for providers

But the benefits of cloud-based security don’t end with the customer - rather, there are many benefits for providers as well.

Income predictability and stability

With a subscription model, which is standard for cloud services, it becomes easier for companies to more accurately predict income. The economies of scale also work better, as fixed costs to deploy from the cloud typically rise a lot slower as more customers are acquired.


Cloud-based companies find it easier to expand into new territories. Without having to ship appliances, the business model becomes scalable far beyond what an appliance-based business could achieve.

Service delivery automation

With a cloud-based model, providers can leverage service delivery automation to provision new customers, provide assistance, or answer other routine queries, allowing resources to focus on solving more pressing issues.

Off to the cloud we go

Gartner estimated that cloud-based security services grew by 21 percent in 2017, and predicted the market to be worth $9 billion by 2020

While there will be some industries or segments in which cloud-based security isn't as critical – at least not public-cloud – the reality for the majority of companies, particularly rapidly growing ones, is that cloud-based security is the only route that makes business and technical sense.

Maybe appliances are as good as they can be, and cloud-based security is the next evolution that is here to stay.

Copyright © 2018 IDG Communications, Inc.

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