By Aaron Tan, ZDNet Asia
Security software companies like Symantec and Trend Micro, as well as managed security service providers like IBM and Tata Consultancy Services, have reason to smile.
Despite the pressure on IT head honchos to do more with less, one area that is not likely to see budget cuts is security. According to Gartner, security was the one item that faced the least budget cuts, even as companies scaled down their IT spending.
In a separate Gartner survey on Asia-Pacific IT budget trends in 2004, enhancing security was rated by respondents to be the most likely initiative to be undertaken in most industries and markets. Most respondents also rated this initiative as having the highest priority in terms of budget allocation.
The hype about cyber terrorism may also have given businesses reason to loosen purse strings on security. Also, regulatory requirements presented by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act will continue to keep security from being a target of budget cuts among businesses.
Gartner predicts that antivirus, content filtering and access management will be the fastest-growing product categories through to 2007.
Antivirus vendors are also most likely to benefit from strong consumer buying, because of higher consumer awareness of security protection. And spam, a rising concern among enterprises, will drive the demand for content filtering, such as Web filtering tools.
Overall, the security software market in the Asia-Pacific region will hit US$1.3 billion in 2008, a compound annual growth rate of 19 percent, according to IDC figures. The biggest markets in the region are Australia, Korea and China.
Enterprises have always been the focus of security software vendors as large projects are often the most lucrative, IDC noted. However, this segment is becoming very competitive with few untapped opportunities. Vendors are finding it increasingly difficult to differentiate their offerings, given the dearth of technological breakthroughs in the last 12 months, resulting in intense price competition, and subsequently declining margins.
As such, IDC has observed vendors introduce a flurry of SMB-tailored security solutions in the past 18 months. Solutions that come with bundled features, are easy to deploy, and take into account the resource and technology constraints of SMBs, have been well-received by the market.