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Microsoft Points Partners to SOC Opportunity

When it comes to broad, new business opportunities for Microsoft partners, security stands apart.

No matter how specialized a partner may be, security concerns are on the rise and they cut across every vertical and niche. Between the need for customers to up their security game and a global skills shortage, there are plenty of ways for partners to rush in.

In a recent online briefing for U.S. partners, Microsoft Vice President for Enterprise and Security Ann Johnson singled out security operations centers (SOCs) as a huge emerging opportunity.

First, Johnson, a veteran of senior posts at Qualys Inc. and RSA Security LLC before joining Microsoft, made a case for managed security services.

"All of our customers are saying, 'Look, we don't have the resources to actually drive a fully robust security program,' especially when you get into small to midsize business. They just can't hire the security professionals. If I were a partner today, I would build a managed security service offering. Of course, I would build it on top of Microsoft tooling, but I would build a managed service security offering so you can supplement your customers' capabilities, you can supplement your customers' skills and you can do it at scale," Johnson said.

Within that broader area, Johnson zeroed in on the need for managed SOCs. An SOC can be defined as a team or a facility dedicated to preventing, detecting, assessing and responding to security incidents. Regulatory compliance requirements are a major driver for SOCs.

"I would focus on managed security operations centers, because, candidly, managed SOCs are places where customers need a lot of help and you can get a lot of breadth across their environment by focusing on that area," she said. "You can also drive a lot of value to your customers by actually helping them build out their SOC and run their SOC, and customers are asking us today for that type of help. So if I were a partner, I would focus on building managed SOC services."

Johnson enumerated various tiers of SOC-related opportunities, from architecting to building to automating to running the facilities.

Johnson and Microsoft are not the only ones pointing to the opportunity. In a press Q&A in October, Gartner analyst Siddharth Deshpande made a strong case for managed SOC services.

"Building a SOC -- or generally creating some form of internal security operations capabilities -- is a costly and time-consuming effort that requires ongoing attention in order to be effective. Indeed, a great number of organizations (including some large organizations) choose not to have a SOC. Instead, they choose other security monitoring options, such as engaging a managed security service provider (MSSP)," Deshpande said.

Posted by Scott Bekker on June 14, 2018 at 9:59 AM