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November 13, 2010
By S.L. Sweet

SaaS Providers: Do You Want a Specialist or Generalist?

Security as a Service, also called SaaS, is becoming an increasingly viable model to consider for protecting your network. Under this model, one or more service providers takes on tasks such as monitoring network activity for security threats, managing your security equipment, or identifying the operations and issues that make your business vulnerable to internal and external threats.

SaaS solutions are now offered by many providers, from specialists in a single security function to generalists that provide a collection of security services. In addition, competitive SaaS offerings include very robust management tool sets that you can access through a secure Web portal.

The idea of choosing the best SaaS elements individually from specialist vendors can be appealing, but it has a big drawback: integration. MegaPath is a SaaS generalist, delivering a wide range of managed security services that are integrated with our managed voice, data, and network services.

When you use different tools from different vendors, it's hard to get a complete view of your overall security posture and situational awareness for real-time incident response. Using different tools can also be costly, both for managing multiple vendor relationships and for your ability to apply security best practices consistently.

Instead, consider a service provider that offers a broad array of managed security services and expertise in your industry. This provider will have the best understanding of the security and compliance issues facing your business, and be in the best position to appropriately apply security best practices.

It may seem counterintuitive, but don't shop with an overly narrow focus on finding the "best" among individual SaaS offerings. If you combine managed network services and managed security services from a single provider like MegaPath, you'll be in a better position to gain the network performance and protection that work well with your business needs and IT resources.

What factors do you think are important for evaluating a SaaS offering?

Recommended Reading: An excellent overview of the SaaS concept is presented in this article: The pros and cons of security software as a service.

Recommended Listening: Podcast 1 in a 4 part series on Security and Compliance. Tune in for a MPLS University Q&A on "What is Security-as-a-Service, and Should SMBs Consider It?"

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