Security-as-a-service gaining popularity

Costs are an advantage, but so is flexibility.

Organizations that are looking for security features including identity management, encryption and access control -- and at the same time want to take advantage of the cost and flexibility benefits of the cloud -- might check into security-as-a-service offerings available now from several vendors.

In this scenario, security is delivered as a service from the cloud, without requiring on-premises hardware. "The largest benefit to using security as a service is the ability to avoid sometimes substantial capital outlays," says Lawrence Pingree, a research director at Gartner Inc. who covers the security market.

In addition, Pingree says, some of the cloud-based security services provide the flexibility needed to address certain use cases. For example, email filtering services are popular since some mobile device platforms limit the ability for endpoint protection products to run on them.

Other use cases include virus protection, vulnerability management, identity management and single sign-on. Gartner forecasts that cloud security services will grow from $1.9 billion in 2012 to $4.2 billion in 2016, with a compound annual growth rate of 23%.

Here's how three companies have integrated cloud-based security services into their IT infrastructure -- and how they've protected themselves from service outages, data breaches and other risks that come with placing corporate security in the hands of an outside organization.

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