Somerville eyes bigger, hungrier security-as-a-service customers as new architecture delivers “infinite” bandwidth

Large-scale customer adoption of security-as-a-service (SECaaS) offerings is rapidly pressuring available bandwidth and forcing providers to ramp up their capabilities to stay ahead of demand, according to one Australian SECaaS provider that recently embraced a more-flexible offering from NEXTDC that will help it speed past its original 10Gbps design.

Although it assumed that its original 10Gbps switching infrastructure would support growth for many years when it was installed less than two years ago, SECaaS provider Somerville/ISNet soon found that aggregated customer usage had blown past expectations – potentially clipping the performance of security services hosted from data centres with finite connectivity to the outside world.

“You'd be amazed how quickly we are sucking up bandwidth at the moment,” managing director Craig Somerville told CSO Australia. “We put in 10Gbps thinking we would have plenty of capacity, but customers are starting to do what they would traditionally do across their LANs, across data centres – and they're sucking up every bit of it. So now we're going to 40Gbps. We've replaced infrastructure far quicker than we thought we would have to.”

Making that jump, however, drove Somerville/ISNet to reconsider how its SECaaS services – which bundle commercial antivirus, intrusion prevention, VPN and other security tools from the likes of Cisco Systems, McAfee, IronPort Systems, Zscaler, and Check Point Security Systems – could keep up with surging demand.

It eventually recognised an opportunity in AXONVX, a virtual switched exchange from NEXTDC that was launched last year to abstract data-centre connectivity away from the facilities themselves.

By managing the connectivity between SECaaS providers like Somerville/ISNet and their customers, the carrier-neutral AXONVX environment allows the Somerville/ISNet SECaaS platform to be offered directly to customers in 18 NEXTDC and non-NEXTDC data centres around Australia at what NEXTDC general manager for channel sales Steve Martin called “infinite scalability” – supporting rapidly growing bandwidth demand for as-a-service offerings.

Somerville/ISNet can now more rapidly ramp up from 10Gbps to 40Gbps to accommodate surging aggregate bandwidth – and Somerville says he “wouldn't be surprised” if this was expanding to 100Gbps within another 18 months.

Virtualising access to customers “has changed the game in terms of our market reach,” Somerville said. “It expands our reach way beyond what we could have funded ourselves if we had gone to build points of presence in all of these places. It will open our services to a customer base that traditionally we wouldn't have been able to compete in.”

That market has become increasingly crowded over the past year, with big-name providers like Fujitsu bolstering their managed-services offerings to secure their share of an ANZ market that analyst firm Frost & Sullivan expects will grow to be worth $1.61 billion by 2019.

Read more: NEXTDC leases secure Canberra data centre

That growth will increase aggregate bandwidth demand, particularly as the palette of SECaaS services expands to include increasingly data-hungry security analytics services. These services will substantially increase the flow of data into SECaaS environments, pressuring incoming telecommunications links that will need to be steadily upgraded.

Easier access to bandwidth has proved to be the final piece that Somerville/ISNet needed to “hit the market hard”, Somerville said. “We have held off until late releases of the software came out that give us better tenancy,” he said, “so we can tenant the platform better than we could before.”

“But we're now at a place where we can go to market pretty hard. If someone had come in and said they wanted a pure 10Gbps firewall, it would have been hard to say yes in the past - but now we have a virtualised platform that can deliver the infrastructure. This platform is just built to be able to scale out.”

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