• United States



SLAs: Cutting the Knot

Feb 01, 20032 mins
Network Security

At Eastern Bank, Vice President of E-Business Solutions Aidan Garcia is responsible for information security. When the a 46-branch financial institution first ventured online in 1997, says Garcia, the company purchased firewalls and vulnerability assessment tools from Internet Security Systems, culminating in August 2002 with Internet Security Systems providing it with a managed security service too. “We’ve spent so many years with them now, we trust them totally—which is important,” says Garcia.

Even so, he adds, when writing the contract, it was only prudent to think about cutting the knot. “We can step out of the relationship anytime we want toif, for example, they weren’t meeting the service-level agreement,” he says. Not, he laughs, that he’s losing sleep over the possibility.

But in an industry that’s experiencing as much turbulence as the managed security sector (which has seen bankruptcies and is widely expected to further consolidate), thinking through what the bank would do if its service provider went out of business seemed only sensible. “We used to handle it ourselves, so we have a comfort factor that we can do it if we have to,” he says. “If they shut down, there would be a hole, and we’d need to fill it pretty quickly. But it wouldn’t leave us completely bare to the world.”

In figuring out what to do, says Garcia, the intention was to make sure that the critical pieces of the puzzle belonged to the bank, rather than a third party. “The way the relationship is structured, we own the licenses, and we’d carry on using the products,” he explains. “We’re not beholden to Internet Security Systems or anybody else for either the software or the hardware.”