VP of research, IDC Canada

For financial institutions that have already out-sourced the management of their networks and desktops, turning to an outside managed security services firm is often a natural step. Now, telecom providers like Telus Corp. and, more recently, Bell Canada have also started to enter into the managed security services space. In February of this year, Bell announced the launch of its Bell Security Solutions Inc. (BSSI). One analyst sees telecom providers such as Bell entering this market as a natural progression.

“It is an evolution of their business model. It is a play to move up the value stack and get away from the business of selling pipes, speeds and bandwidth. To offset negative growth in their core businesses, they are trying to move into managed services spaces,” said Jamie Sharp, vice-president of research for IDC Canada. It is a play to move up the value stack and get away from the business of selling pipes, speeds and bandwidth.Jamie Sharp>Text Roberta Fox, senior partner with the Markham, Ont.-based Fox Group Consulting, agrees it is a natural progression for telecom providers. “Clients [are] moving out of providing these types of services end-to-end given the complexity of managing all of the various devices required for security,” she said.

Sharp said that IT issues top of mind for executives of financial services firms are anti-virus protection and detection, then e-mail and SPAM security, followed by network and perimeter defence. He noted about 40 per cent of enterprise companies only spend up to five per cent of their IT budget on security. Sharp added that financial institutions are looking seriously at telecom providers as a potential resource to manage security.

But the question remains: do telecom providers have what it takes to manage the security needs of, for example, the big banks in Canada?

According to Sharp, the answer is yes. “[Telecom providers] have all the core competencies required. If you think about it, they have been securing and managing their own networks and turning it into a product and selling it externally,” he said.

John Cash, account executive with Bell Security Solutions Inc. in Toronto, said even though BSSI is a new business, it already has close to 300 employees working for it, and it has other Bell resources. “It is recognized there is a lot of bench strength that Bell can muster on a national basis,” he said.

Cash added that because Bell has been securing its own networks for years, financial institutions are able to trust BSSI. Fox believes BSSI is trustworthy enough as a security provider for financial institutions. She noted some Canadian financial institutions are already using BSSI for managed services.

“It is one of the only organizations of this type in Canada that can bring network expertise, combined with security expertise as a one-stop-shop when required,” she said.

The services BSSI provides include identification and access control protection, assisting with compliance regulations, such as PIPEDA and Sarbanes-Oxley, and protection against worms and viruses.

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