Is your security initiative “one inch into a mile”?

In the software universe we’ve all heard the saying “We are One Inch into a Mile of Functionality but we are paying for the entire mile.”

That pretty much sums up every technology initiative ever embarked upon. Whether we are talking, ERP, CRM, SIEM or a variety of other alphabet soup programs, it always looks so simple in the demo, but when rubber meets the road, there’s always some gremlin preventing or delaying full realization of the benefits or expected ROI.

Now I am not looking down my nose at any particular implementation of any particular product, but I read a Forrester statistic that stated 73% of major software implementations don’t get past phase 1. Whether a result of scope creep, budget busting or flagging executive buy-in, the promise of ROI is underwhelming; not to mention the drag on IT productivity and lack of measurable results. And it’s those results we depend on to drive ROI and solve the business need.

And, of course that’s where the cloud can be a savior to an SMB or Fortune 500 global enterprise. The immediate benefit of cloud applications is the zero-day factor. One the first day of your subscription, the functionality is 100% there and ready to be applied. The endless hours upon hours of scoping, development, implementation, testing, tweaking, retesting, reinstalling, configuring, hair pulling, reconfiguring, reprioritizing, rescoping, testing again more deploying, redeploying are gone.  And with it, the delta of time between capital investment and ROI realization has stretched considerably. Sometimes in excess of 3-4 years.

This is especially true when applying enterprise security solutions.

We all realize that IT security can be a cost center. We also know that return on investment on a security initiative can take time to calculate. However, if applying security-as-a-service solutions such as SIEM, Log Management, IDM, Access Management and SSO an enterprise receives maximum benefit right out of the gate and you remove all the crushing weight of capital costs.

Here’s an example. Company X must comply with a federal regulation (PCI, HIPPA, CIP, GLBA, etc..). IT and the C-Level executives realize that a solution to capture log events and store the requisite information is needed. While doing their due diligence, they discovered that having a solution that also monitors the logs for suspicious activity is also worth the investment. In the end they create a budget and decide on an appropriate course of action. Now comes the expensive part. They lay out the cash for the server, for the software package, for the additional hardware. Conservatively (for a small enterprise) we are talking $150,000. And that’s before the first line of custom code is written or a PC is plugged in. Additionally the support and maintenance clock has started ticking—another 30 grand.

It’s three months later, and you finally deployed the first small portion. You’ve invested 2 full time implementers, a consultant, etc…another $25,000. And in that time there has been a software update and seven patches.  Without putting too fine of a point on it, before you’ve seen one inch of functionality, you’re already in the hole well over a quarter million dollars. Now how many anomalies prevented will it take to realize any return? Besides in the three months, you’ve simply scratched the surface in terms of functionality. It will be another year before the system is fully functional.

Let’s compare that nightmare scenario with the deploying and managing from the cloud. Once the sensors are calibrated (each sensor is less than 1GB of space on a server or monitored device) and configured, your enterprise is fully covered. You are receiving a fully-formed, fully functional enterprise-class deployment. In this case there is no server purchase, no software purchase…in fact no capital expenditure of any kind. For what Company X is paying in support and maintenance (it’s OpEx commitment), the company could trade in the entire Year 1-3 initiative costs. The instant scalability of the cloud-based SIEM/Log Management gives Company X the flexibility to right size as it goes and therefore, only pay for what is needed. There is never a mile minus one inch of function going unused.

Many organizations are in the same boat as Company X. By considering security-as-a-service they could instantly reduce capital budget (trade CapEx for OpEx) and immediately begin accruing the necessary capabilities to meet the business need while enjoying the direct benefits that translate into return on investment. In this scenario, there’s no waiting three years for ROI, but more important for compliance and security, there’s no waiting to deploy important functionality.

Kevin Nikkhoo
Cloud Miler!

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