Compliance Fuels Security on Demand

By Matt Hines  |  Posted 2006-06-19 Email Print this article Print

Efforts to combat compliance regulations are being seen as a big reason for the software as a service model being adopted across the security industry.

The software as a service delivery model is poised for adoption across the security industry, with some hosted applications providers tabbing customers' compliance efforts as an emerging driver of the trend.

As has proved in the CRM (customer relationship management) sector, many business customers appear increasingly willing to consider the move to hosted applications to replace on-premises software.

Some experts and industry players believe that the hosted model is already changing the way many companies manage IT security and compliance operations.

Among those predicting growth of the SAAS model is Ben Fathi, corporate vice president of the Security Technology unit at Microsoft, in Redmond, Wash.

As the software maker's newest in-house security guru, Fathi said that the emergence of consumer tools such as Microsoft's One-Care PC management service is indicative of a shift that will also resonate inside enterprises.

"I think it's fair to say that the managed service model is the future of software in general, and this is true of security as well," Fathi said.

"Companies are looking at the issue of how costly it is to keep their security defenses up-to-date. There's a lot of benefit to the approach of automated software updates, and not just for installing fixes; the whole industry is moving in this direction."

Fathi said he expects to see additional hosted support services added to Microsoft's ISA Server security gateway software, which promises to fight many types of Web-based threats.

While Microsoft is just getting its feet wet in the security sector, more established security software service providers including Qualys say that compliance requirements are helping to ignite demand for hosted tools.

The company has yet to officially launch a new Web-based IT policy compliance monitoring service, but Qualys Chairman and CEO Philippe Courtot said his company is already winning deals to provide the service as it goes up against well-known, on-premises alternatives.

"These companies are being asked to collect data from so many different systems and make sense of it for compliance, and the enterprise software model is already very distributed in nature," said Courtot in Versailles, France.

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