Asian manufacturers open to managed security

SMBs like working with managed security service providers because the latter understand their business requirements and have the expertise.

Small and midsize players in the Asia-Pacific region's manufacturing sector are using managed services to beef up their IT security, a new study indicates.

Released by AMI-Partners Tuesday, the study revealed that small and midsize businesses (SMBs)--with fewer than 1,000 employees--in the region, including Japan, have bankrolled nearly US$29 million on managed security services, up from US$22 million in 2005.

SMBs in the manufacturing vertical were the biggest spenders on MSS compared to their counterparts in other major verticals. Medium-sized businesses--those with 100 to 999 employees--make up more than two-thirds of MSS spending.

Markets that thrive on manufacturing were also major MSS spenders, the study found. Of the total amount spent on MSS in the Asia-Pacific region, Japan led with 45 percent, followed by China (20 percent) and South Korea (11 percent).

AMI-Partners cited three key reasons for the high security expenditure: the sheer number of businesses in the manufacturing vertical, the lack of qualified in-house IT security specialists, and the relatively less sensitive nature of data in this vertical.

Balaji Sreedhar, a Singapore-based research analyst at AMI-Partners, noted that as more companies start doing business online, they are required to be more vigilant about Internet security.

He added that the majority of SMBs prefer to work with MSS providers who understand their business and who have considerable expertise in their line of work.

"The MSS option is giving SMBs peace of mind, since they are freed of the responsibility of having to monitor their equipment," said Sreedhar in a press statement. "They do not have to worry about their antivirus or security patches being up to date, because the MSS provider takes care of all of these issues for them."

However, selecting the right MSS provider, according to Sreedhar, is often a tricky task for SMBs.

"Concerns when choosing MSS providers are [usually related to] customer support and the type of SLAs (service -level agreements) the provider offers," he observed.

Other peripheral issues being considered while choosing an MSS provider is whether services such as IDS (intrusion-detection systems) are being automated, and whether the business faces any regulatory-compliance issues.

Sreedhar also noticed that compared to smaller businesses, midsize companies were more open to the idea of hiring the services of MSS providers.

"Medium-sized businesses in the manufacturing vertical understand the benefits of MSS, such as lower cost and less dependence on in-house IT security specialists," Sreedhar revealed. "Therefore, they are more willing than their smaller business counterparts to try this model."