tssci security

Buying best of breed versus bundled services

We try and secure our data, our systems, and people as best we can. We spend months evaluating and deploying firewalls, IDS, IPS, NAC, A/V, A/S, anti-spam, proxies, VPN, etc. Hopefully, you create matrices of each product you consider purchasing based on a selection of criteria that your business deems most important. In the end though, management usually considers the $ column as most important when purchasing a product. It may not be the best, not do all the things you need, but it's the cheapest. What then? You start hearing pitches for a product and ways of making the cheapest product outperform the others.

Then there are vendors that have an exceptional product in one arena, but another is inferior to another vendor's product. Vendor A bundles three services such as Anti-Virus, Anti-Spyware, and Personal Firewall, but it only excels in A/V. Vendor B dominates the market with their Anti-Spyware solution and Vendor C has an exceptional firewall. Let's look at an example pricing structure (in $ per client):

**** A/V A/S PF Total Bundled *50,000 licenses
Vendor A $2.50 $2.25 $3.00 $7.75 $6.00 $300000.00
Vendor B $2.75 $3.00 $2.50 $8.25 $6.65 $332500.00
Vendor C $2.00 $2.75 $3.50 $8.25 $6.75 $337500.00

Let's say your business needs 50,000 licenses -- Vendor A would amount to $300,000; Vendor B $332,500; and Vendor C $337,500.00 for each of their bundled offerings. If we were to pick and choose best of breed from all three vendors, we would use Vendor A for A/V, Vendor B for A/S, and Vendor C for PF. For 50,000 licenses, the total would amount to $450,000 (or $9 per client) -- over $100k more than the most expensive bundle, but is the most "secure."

Going with one vendor may make system administration tasks easier, because it's likely the products have been integrated with each other. But then again this benefit has a downside, creating a single-point-of-failure scenario in case of a vulnerability in a vendor's management software. Save the risk equations and values you come up with for some other time. Which of the solutions would you choose and why?

Posted by Marcin on Monday, September 10, 2007 in Security.

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