Optical/IP Networks

Qwest, IBM Team to Secure SMBs

By becoming IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)'s only North American security services partner, Qwest Communications International Inc. (NYSE: Q) intends to bring sophisticated security solutions to a new group of customers: small to mid-sized businesses. (See Qwest Taps IBM for Managed Services.)

The new services, Qwest iQManaged Security Service (MSS) and Qwest iQ Network Management Service (NMS), build on resources IBM has deployed globally, including security services from its Internet Security Systems (ISS) acquisition, but are designed to be cost-effective for businesses with fewer than 15,000 employees, says Bob Schroeder, director of product management for Qwest.

"We saw an evolving need from our customer base for security services," Schroeder says. "We are focused on a market that we think has largely been ignored but has the same need for managed infrastructure of their routers, hubs, switches, and IT equipment as larger companies."

The Qwest iQ MSS uses ISS's worldwide redundant security operation centers, IBM's X-Force global security organization, and its certified engineers and security analysts to provide around-the-clock support. Qwest is IBM's only North American partner for these services, according to Tim DeHerrera, client services director for IBM. The infrastructure management service is also unique to Qwest at this time.

That means Qwest customers get the immediate heads-up on new viruses and patches as they are detected and provided by the IBM team, as well as Qwest security consultants and engineers.

By using IBM's automated processes and technologies to track network issues or security problems, Qwest can focus its resources on "true events, true intrusions and real problems," Schroeder says. "We can spend a heckuva lot less time figuring out what the problems are."

ISS has developed its own proprietary tools for network security, DeHerrera says, and those are combined with the X-Force, which includes 1,000 individuals devoted to tracking network threats, developing patches, and pushing those out to customers.

"We are often the people who see threats first and name them," DeHerrera says. "When we acquired ISS, it was largely for their ability to go down market, to bring these services down market."

The security and network management offerings will be sold by Qwest's direct sales force and indirect sales partners. They will be sold in conjunction with Qwest's IQ networking services portfolio, including Internet and private network connections, both inside Qwest's 14-state local exchange region and nationally on its fiber optic footprint, Schroeder says.

"This whole announcement is very strategic for us. It extends what we were doing with our IQ networking portfolio. We were already providing network-based security for [denial-of-service attacks] and network-based firewalls, but what this does is say that we can not only provide networking, we can take over your routers, switches, and firewalls and put our own technology in place."

That approach assures SMB customers that "every packet is being protected and cared for," Schroeder says.

— Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading

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