Dimension Data to expand Earthwave security services worldwide

Demand for real-time threat monitoring from cloud services providers is rising as hacking risks persist

Neil Campbell of Dimension Data

Neil Campbell of Dimension Data

Dimension Data plans to expand worldwide a managed security service offering it brought under its wing with the acquisition of Sydney-based Earthwave last year.

The company, part of NTT Group of Japan, is one of a number of companies competing as providers of cloud-related IT and data center services.

Its acquisition of Earthwave in September 2013 added a real-time security event monitoring service to its portfolio, which is increasingly sought by enterprises facing risks from hackers.

Before acquiring Earthwave, Dimension Data partnered with other managed security service providers (MSSPs) but realized it needed an in-house capability, said Neil Campbell, director of solutions, in a recent interview. It made sense to acquire an established partner rather than build a service from scratch, he said.

Earthwave specializes in a so-called SOC-in-a-box, or a security operations center that can be set up quickly and is compatible with a range of security technologies. It runs security operation centers with analysts who monitor companies' networks, handling attacks per the policies set by its clients.

It was primarily focused on Australia, sculpting its services in line with data security standards such Australia's Defence Signals Directorate's "Highly Protected" classification and international specifications such as the Payment Card Industry's Data Security Standards for protecting credit and debit card data.

Dimension Data is planning to offer Earthwave's service worldwide. Its roadmap for offering Earthwave outside of Australia is commercially sensitive, Campbell said, but is taking a slow-but-steady approach to scaling it.

It has already doubled Earthwave's contract base in Australia and plans to use the lessons learned for how the business can be scaled.

"When you think about doubling its contract base in a relatively short period, that's a quite lot of demand," Campbell said. "One of the things that large companies are really good at doing with small companies is buying them and then destroying them with immediate overwhelming demand."

Dimension Data is trying to differentiate Earthwave's services from others by following trends in cloud computing, such as metered services where customers are only charged for what they use.

Carlo Minassian, who founded Earthwave in 2000 and has stayed on with Dimension Data, said companies using cloud computing suddenly "burst" or go from using, for example, five servers suddenly up to 200 to accommodate demand.

A company will want those extra services to be immediately monitored by the real-time threat management service. The demand for that kind of flexibility came about over the last year or so, Minassian said.

In response, Earthwave has automated the process for monitoring new servers as well as the billing process for when companies spin up or shut down virtual machines.

"That level of automation and the services, the billing, the backend -- from what we understand, no one else is doing it today apart from us," Minassian said.

Earthwave also has an option, called a managed incident response service, that allows companies to pay a retainer that reserves security analysts' time for immediate investigation into security threats.

"Clients are saying 'We don't want to have to call you and say we want a guy to do computer forensics or malware analysis' and you then find a consultant a week later," he said.

Under pre-arranged agreements, Earthwave analysts can charge ahead to investigate a security threat without a client needing to secure a separate contract for that kind of work, Minassian said. For example, a company may reserve three days worth of analysts' time for such investigations. Unused time is used to craft pro-active security plans, he said.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk

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