Symantec walks away from managed firewall and endpoint services

Ending the offerings is part of a larger plan to align the Managed Security Services with their new offering strategy

Symantec has downsized their Managed Security Services portfolio, ending support for the managed firewall and managed endpoint offerings. Symantec says the change is part of an effort to streamline things within the company's Information Security portfolio, but what does that mean for existing managed security customers?

[Symantec uses vulnerability to take out part of the ZeroAccess botnet]

In a statement to CSO, Symantec said that ending the managed firewall and managed endpoint offerings is part of a larger plan to align the Managed Security Services with their new offering strategy, and streamline their product range to provide, "fewer, more integrated solutions for our customers."

Symantec said the decision to ax the two services was due to the fact that only a small number of customers were actually using the products. This discovery was made after an audit early in the summer, and then in July, Symantec quietly killed them off. Existing customers were told of the change when it happened, and promised support until the end of their annual service period.

In a rebuttal emailed to CSO, J.J. Thompson, the managing director and CEO of Rook Security in Indianapolis, slammed Symantec's move, calling it a disruption.

"This isn't more integrated. They're pulling a key component of security program management out of their client portfolio," Thompson said.

"By retiring managed firewall, this means that their customers now need to find a new way to manage their firewalls or face business disruption. Because customers have put their trust in Symantec and their businesses rely on this managed service, this unexpected business disruption creates a major headache on numerous levels within organizations."

Moreover, Thompson added, those customers that are affected by Symantec's change could suffer because they'll have to find another MSS or to in-source.

"If they in-source, it's hard to find talented professionals to manage firewalls without introducing unnecessary risk. If they stick with outsourcing, let's hope their contract term fit with their budgeting process. If they didn't co-term it, then they may bust their budget for firewall management by un-bundling this from their overall MSS deal with Symantec."

Providers like Symantec make things cheaper when a customer bundles services, such as firewall management, monitoring, and incident notification, Thompson explained. Now that they'll have to purchase managed firewall a-la-carte, Symantec's customers will face a financial hit at a time of the year when the 2014 budget cycle is completed.

[Symantec reports finds small businesses battered by cybercrime]

Symantec responded to Thompson's remarks, noting that the company will honor all contractual obligations and support existing customers. If the need is there, Symantec said that they'll assist customers with making alternate arrangements and help make the transition as smooth as possible.

"To help accommodate routine infrastructure change, existing customers may add a small number of additional devices so long as they co-terminate with the end of their existing contract," Symantec said in a statement.

In response to Thompson's claim that Symantec was cutting off its own foot in order to save its leg, given that Symantec has made changes to, or ended completely, a range of other services including security consulting and cloud backup, the company kept to message, and said the changes were made in order to offer a greater value to customers.

The managed security market is crowded. Aside from Symantec, the list of firms offering similar services in the SMB / Enterprise space include HP, IBM, Trustwave, Dell, AT&T, and EMC, just to name a few. Market estimates show that SMB spending will only grow over the coming years, as businesses attempt to get more for their buck.

According to research from IDC, adoption of 3rd Platform IT technologies will redefine 90 percent of IT roles by 2018. As organizations increase spending on cloud services, mobile computing, big data and analytics, and in despite Symantec's alterations, security firms will be looking for a piece of the action in this growth.

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