Dell angles for service contracts with new security offerings

With its new security services portfolio for midsized businesses, Dell hopes to beef up its services business

Dell on Wednesday beefed up its security offerings with new hardware and services, which could help the company to strike more long-term service engagements with customers.

The security offerings are part of a new product portfolio targeted at medium-sized businesses, Dell said. The portfolio brings together security management, deployment and vulnerability assessment tools to protect data and IT infrastructures.

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The portfolio includes managed security services through a partnership with SecureWorks. SecureWorks provides a hardware- and software-based security information management platform that collects data and events from devices and uses that information to identify threats. SecureWorks will provide the hardware, which will work with industry-standard servers, clients and networking gear.

Dell has primary done short-term service engagements in the past, and with the security services it aims to stay in touch with customers beyond just the hardware sale, said Paulette Altmaier, vice president for small- and medium-business solutions at Dell.

"In the past Dell has tended to be ... hardware-centric and sell the box and the services close to the box," Altmaier said. "Our focus is not just hardware, but software and services."

Dell says it needs to be in constant touch with customers to assess their security and resolve related problems. Its involvement has to increase particularly because medium-sized businesses may not have the expertise and resources of larger companies to tackle internal and external security threats.

"Most security threats were the domain of hackers. Now it's organized crime and industrial espionage. It's a whole different ballgame," Altmaier said. "The security services market is growing and now is the time for Dell to come in, given our strategic focus."

The company could be looking at long-term engagements -- in some cases close to five years -- with customers. But customers will have a choice to select offerings and manage products on their own.

The security portfolio will also include Dell-branded hardware and services to secure hardware and prevent intrusions. The J-SRX network security appliances will provide firewall, intrusion prevention, antispam and antivirus technologies to secure networks. The appliances were already being offered to larger customers, but are now being extended to medium businesses with up to 10,000 employees. The appliances are being provided through a partnership with Juniper, announced in October last year, to bring network-level security to medium businesses.

Dell's client security services through its Kace acquisition in February are also part of the portfolio. The company will offer the Kace K1000 management appliance, which helps secure client devices through services like patching.

The new security software portfolio comes after Dell last week said it had sent replacement motherboards for PowerEdge servers with the W32.Spybot worm in flash storage. The spyware was accidentally introduced during the manufacturing process of the motherboards.

Dell owns up to the problem, Altmaier said, adding that such incidents point to the growing need of secure hardware and software to tackle internal and external threats.

"We have changed the testing process to make sure that we test for unauthorized software on [hardware]. There are so many evolving threats that you need layered security," Altmaier said.

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