The debate surrounding the integration of best-of-breed versus a single-vendor security platform has been discussed for some years. On one side, we have niche solutions that offer a specialized approach to addressing cybersecurity challenges. On the other side, there are the potential benefits of a consolidated platform that promises seamless interoperability for an exponential improvement of security posture.
This debate has recently expanded to Extended Detection and Response (XDR) as a core component of modern security platforms. XDR depends on several security layers working in harmony to detect and respond to threats earlier. Security administrators wonder whether they should build an XDR using best-of-breed solutions from different vendors (Open XDR) or opt for a single-vendor XDR approach maximizing interoperability and driving improved detection and response capabilities.
A single-vendor platform approach promises many advantages:
- Provides complete security, covering all aspects of cybersecurity.
- The tight integration reduces threat dwell time.
- Simplifies management and drives cost-effectiveness.
- Multiples the security posture improvement of each constituent through deep and native integration.
However, achieving these benefits through some single utopian platform is far from guaranteed, and the promises made by most security platform vendors are often broken. When evaluating your options, it is essential to consider the following potential gaps:
1. Critical Security Solutions and Capabilities Are Missing
The promise of generating a single vendor is pretty tricky to achieve. Creating a layered, fully integrated security tool is time-consuming and complicated. The vendor’s portfolio must be wide and deep to provide multiple layers, a massive undertaking that most companies cannot execute. As a result, many security platforms are not composed of natively integrated leading-edge technologies. This does not, in the end, give the organizations better security.
You need a vendor whose platform is capable of securing everything from edge to core, including endpoints, servers, networks, applications, and identities. It must also be deep enough to provide security analytics, event correlation, threat detection, remediation, etc.
2. Poor Integration That Prevents Scalable Protection
Many security platform vendors aim to consolidate products, processes, and data into a centralized solution, offering a more streamlined and efficient approach to security. Poor integration can hinder these benefits. Here are some reasons:
- Incomplete Unified Data Visibility: If the vendor fails to consolidate in a single console and consolidate views of all relevant products and data sources, it leads to blind spots, bringing a lack of clarity and loss of control.
- Inefficient Communication: If products don’t share threat intelligence or coordinate responses, it becomes challenging to respond to emerging threats in a timely and coordinated manner.
- Siloed Data and Processes: Shabby integration causes data and processes to remain siloed within each product. This impedes the platform’s ability to correlate data and enforce consistent security policies.
- Complex Management: Inadequate integration leads to a fragmented security system that is complex to manage and maintain, which increases operational overhead as well as the likelihood of misconfigurations and potential incidents.
3. Complicated Management Despite Consolidation
We are used to finding in the news that vendors are acquiring companies to expand their platform offering. They may now own the new company’s products, but it still takes much time to integrate the new solutions into one complete architecture and one consolidated management console. Similar challenges occur when vendors promise to integrate best-of-breed security products through APIs and other means.
More often than not, these integrations are superficial. The platform and management interface remain the same, but with siloed areas for each product. Most security providers simply aren’t willing or able to do the heavy lifting of making data and processes consistent across products. This results in the same management and operational challenges as using multiple tools from multiple vendors.
4. The Cost Savings Aren’t There
A single security solution must be wide and deep to provide maximum protection. For that reason, if done seriously, tight unified platforms are costly and resource-heavy to build and maintain. As such, some vendors build them primarily for large enterprises with a considerable security budget, charging an extra cost for being part of the platform, forcing an upgrade, or adding add-ons, like XDR.
Other security platform vendors consider it an essential tenet of modern cybersecurity that should be accessible to every organization, enabling them to build and evolve their security practices and resilience.
We also must carefully evaluate the operational cost and the security automation level built into the platform. Many vendors lack the data and process synchronization and orchestration across products to minimize human intervention, and ensure continuous, repeatable effective processes and efficient workflows.
5. Security Product Consolidation Without Collaboration
Consolidated security offerings should integrate each protection deeply to make a whole greater than the sum of the parts. Unfortunately, within many platforms you might encounter, the products don’t share data, dashboards, reports, common policies, and use cases at the level they can and should.
XDR has driven the consolidation of security products, such as endpoint, network, and identity, to increase efficacy and reduce threat dwell times. That said, there are many other use cases where a deep integration helps organizations to manage risk better and increase security operations productivity by design, such as:
- Leveraging commonalities among adjacent security products
- Integrating consoles for common management and monitoring functions
- Automating functions across products as a whole
You’ll know a truly unified platform when you see it. Use cases of an effective single-vendor platform are, but are not limited to:
- Security enforcement of endpoints with a certain security technology stack when connecting to the corporate network (through VPN or wireless)
- Enforcement of MFA authentication when users access corporate assets or security products to prevent unauthorized policy changes or disablement
- Continuous security risk mitigation by ending the endpoint session when the user becomes unauthorized to access corporate assets (time of the day or day of the week, for example)
Carefully evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the various security platform options on the market. Keep the above platform shortcomings in mind to select the one that best fits the complexity of your environments, your desired level of integration, and your organization’s risk tolerance. Learn about WatchGuard’s Unified Security Platform ⟨®⟩ approach here.
If you’re a managed service provider looking to deliver comprehensive security that is easy to consume, manage, and deliver, we recommend starting your journey by learning about the ONE Security Platform for MSPs.