Securing the marketplace

Customers continue to scramble to get their e-commerce Web sites up and running, just as the host of vendors, products and players in the marketplace seems to be growing exponentially. For integrators, however, the challenge is finding the security solution which suits a particular customer's needs.

Mike Woodbury from project management company Certus Project Consulting, believes there is a huge amount of business for integrators in providing security solutions to customers.

"The way the Internet has evolved, it's come from a network entirely designed for openness . . . and now as e-commerce has evolved on top of that have looked at addressing that [security] issue."

Woodbury advises integrators to consider the different types of security they should be offering to different customers, using the example of how the requirements of a company selling stationery over the Internet has different requirements from a pharmaceutical company. "Target R&D companies and ones doing manufacturing of product here in Australia," he suggests, "simply because they have the most to lose from security threats."

He said integrators need to be able to demonstrate their security skills to potential customers. "In the world of e-commerce . . . the security integrators that are going to succeed are the ones that can point to successful security implementations."

Woodbury said, particularly as companies open up their systems more to those outside their network, they become more anxious about security. "So I think e-commerce is the enabler for that - the underlying business driver is the whole opening up of the supply chain."

Growing the knowledge

According to John Meddows, CEO of positive identification distributor Triton Secure, integrators had to have both the technology and the skills to integrate that technology in order to be able to provide solutions to their customers.

"People tend to go with an integrator who can provide that whole range of services from beginning to end," Meddows said.

Meddows added that some integrators had set up specialist security areas in their organisations. "I think they've addressed the fact there's a market out there."

He agrees e-commerce did have a part to play in the growing interest from customers. "Security becomes a key element in the strategy of large companies," Meddows said. "More are doing business across the Net, becoming more aware of risks and trying to close those risks."

According to Meddows, now more than ever before, integrators need to make sure they provide the best possible solutions for their customers' needs. "Because the contractual relationships they're having with their customers are a lot stronger than ever before," he said. "We are becoming very much like the US - contracts are a lot tougher."

He also believes integrators need to have a strong understanding of what customers' requirements are. "Don't just add security for security's sake," Meddows advises. He suggests looking at the business issues instead, and said integrators need to "understand the customer's requirements."

In the future, Meddows sees enormous opportunities for integrators. "Most organisations have now taken the management view that they'll outsource or contract out areas not core to business and that's a huge opportunity for integrators in my mind."

"So, from a reseller's point of view, it's a good news picture," he said. However, Meddows warns that it will only be the good integrators who survive. "The ones that don't perform and don't live up to customers' expectations aren't going to."

Targeting potential markets

Geoffrey Roberts, business development manager at secure messaging vendor CommSecure, sees the B2B sector as being one area of growth potential for integrators because these customers were "looking for different ways to get around current payment dilemmas of cheques and bits of paper".

He said these companies had been through the stage of setting up a Web site and were now asking, "Can we use it for trading on a B2B basis?" and "How can we do that?".

"Integrators should look at fulfilling that demand," Roberts said. "[They] should look at that being a trend for the future."

Roberts sees the role of the integrator being to make it as "simple as possible for the customer to understand".

"One of the questions they might ask [the customer] is ‘what do you want to sell through the site and what are the payment options you might use?'," Roberts said.

Roberts believes it is important to try and make the payment process as integrated as possible. "I think you've got to make sure the whole system is relatively quick and frankly it should be no more than 2-15 seconds," he said.

He suggests integrators ask transaction companies for as much help as possible, and uses the example of trialling equipment to assess whether it's suitable for their customer's needs.

Integrators build up skillsets

Bob Hey, national security manager at systems integrator Com Tech Communications believes the security market is going to become "huge" for integrators, and attributes the growth, in part, to business-to-business communication becoming more prevalent, as well as virtual private networking.

"There's a lot more clicks-and-mortar coming online," Hey said.

Banking and financial institutions are two examples Hey gives of industries which are major adopters. "They see economics of scale and market penetration occurring," he said.

Hey attributes this to the larger client base these industries have in the online world. This, according to Hey, provides these companies with the ability to reduce their own operating costs. There is also the cost of setting up the sites which has resulted in a larger take up in e-commerce sites by the larger organisations, compared with SMEs.

Hey said Com Tech carried out "everything from consult to design to implementation" to provide security solutions for its customers.

"Security is one of those ongoing environments - it's never a static solution," Hey said. "Security has to be able to combat or deal with that."

He said this meant "huge administrative overheads" in order to stay current and be able to provide the best possible solutions to its customers.

"A lot of integrators would like to play in that [security] area," he said. "[The] skillset is very specific and very expensive."

Hey said part of this related to the cost of training and retaining skilled staff. "I'm at a point where I grow my own security specialists," Hey said. "There is a huge investment in building a delivery arm with a security specialisation. They've got to have the attitude, and to remain current. There is a huge overhead in it."

Hey believes security is no longer a "point solution".

"They're [the customer] looking for a holistic delivery. Companies are no longer looking for a point solution, they're looking for a business solution," Hey said. "Business is driving the requirements and the IT has to provide the solution."

Targeting SMES

Peter Sandilands, regional manager, Australia New Zealand for security vendor Check Point Software Technologies said the potential with many SME customers is that they have no expertise in these areas, so need to outsource the work to other companies, such as integrators.

Part of that potential relates to the number of SME companies in the Australian marketplace. "It really comes down to identifying customers who are ready to grow their business using Internet-based communication."

"That used to be ‘lets put up a Web site'," Sandilands said. "It may now be putting up interactive stuff."

"There's a big trend in the world today to virtualise companies," said Sandilands.

He said, at a simple level this involves exchange of information "securely, effectively and reliably".

What type of security solution an integrator provides to a customer will differ, and needs to target the customer's needs. "The sell to the SME is ‘what sort of business do they want to be in?', ‘what are they offering to the market?' and where do they want to be?'."

For the integrator, Sandilands sees the need to understand that "they're not selling a piece of technology, they're selling a piece of business functionality.

"If you're providing a service how are you going to change your operations to make it work effectively? It evolves out of business consulting."

His advice to integrators is to "look at the business opportunities. There's a much higher need for the integrators to be more aware of how business operates and the opportunities there."

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