Verizon Business launched a unified threat management (UTM) service aimed at midsize businesses and distributed enterprises that will be available immediately in the United States, Europe, and Asia Pacific. Verizon is entering a growing field of managed service providers with UTM offerings such as IBM, Megapath, NTT, and Orange Business Services. Initially, Verizon Business will offer Cisco's Adaptive Security Appliance and Juniper's Secure Services Gateway family. UTM appliances combine firewall, VPN, antivirus, anti-spam, content filtering, intrusion detection, and other security services on a single platform, removing the need for multiple management stations and servers.
Verizon, like other telecom providers such as British Telecom that acquired Counterpane in 2006, is trying to be the one-stop shop for all telecom needs, including voice, video, Internet, and services. The managed service comes with three levels, from standard that provides basic appliance management and reporting, to platinum that includes access to Verizon's security analysts and consultants. Included at all levels is a portal with configurable reports and an asset-valuation system that discovers servers and services on your network and lets the customer assign values to the servers. Asset value is used in threat analysis and reporting. For organizations that as a matter of policy won't allow event data to leave their networks, Verizon can leave it local for an additional fee.
Pricing starts at $750 per UTM device for monitoring, and $1,300 a month per UTM device for monitoring and management. The recurring charges could easily offset the costs of staffing a position for the same role. Given volume discounts and the ongoing management and monitoring costs for additional UTM devices, the service becomes more attractive with higher volumes. You definitely need to shop for a managed service and compare features/functions like change control, reporting, cost per change, initial costs, and service level agreements to compare apples to apples.
Of course, you could manage it yourself. UTM devices pretty much run themselves once they're installed and configured. It's not that difficult, and once you get past the capital costs, the ongoing appliance management overhead is negligible. Where you may need expertise is event reporting and analysis. To that end, an experienced security administrator, according to InformationWeek Research's National IT Salary Survey of 7,281 IT professionals (spring 2007), earns an average salary plus bonus of $90,000. Building up in-house expertise will take time and resources that might be better used elsewhere. Verizon's acquisition of Cybertrust in 2007 brought the company expertise in the analysis and reporting of security events, which takes a trained eye to ferret out the real threats from the noise.