In the latest version -- Managed Office Protection v. 5.03 -- Panda promises cost of ownership (TCO) savings of its hosted security service by as much as 50%, particularly through the elimination of manual updates and the centralization of network security control on a Web-based dashboard (that last an advantage for businesses with remote office, home-based or telecommuting employees and mobile workers).
What I found interesting was the company's sense, in addition to its confidence in its product, that a variety of security and economic concerns were coming together to make security from the cloud both more appealing and more practical for small and midsized businesses.
I spoke recently with Carlos Zevallos, a Panda security evangelist and threat researcher, about the challenges of marketing SaaS to small and midsized businesses, particularly those accustomed to "doing it themselves."
Zevallos countered that challenging economic times themselves help make the point: "Your business may not have the budget to have an IT department, and the IT you resources have are facing multiple demands, even as the threat environment grows more complex, requiring faster and more constant defense in response."
The growing complexity of that environment -- both the threats and the defenses -- strike Zevallos as growing beyond the capacity of non-security companies to manage on their own.
Appropriately enough considering the approach of April 15th, he offered an analogy: "It's like trying to do your corporate taxes yourself. At some point you're going to turn to a professional, a specialist, making an investment that's ultimately going to save you money."
He believes -- and not just from a sales and marketing posture, it seemed to me -- that SaaS increasingly offers a TCO advantage that reinforces its comprehensive security approach.
"Handling your own security," Zevallos said, "distracts from your core business. And if your core business is not security it makes less and less sense not to take a managed security approach."
Decide for yourself, of course: like its competitors, Panda offers a variety of evaluation programs and online tools for measuring the cost and appropriateness of its products. (I particularly liked the per-seat cost calculator on the Managed Office Protection store page.)