IDC: Government could mandate network security

TORONTO — Recent terrorist strikes in the United States and a fear of further attacks will fuel further adoption of network security, according to an IDC Canada analyst.

Discussing projections for the Canadian IT market at the Cisco Solutions Forum 2001 Tuesday, IDC senior analyst Dan McLean said last month’s attacks on New York and Washington, D.C. brought to light the general level of overall complacency with regards to security.

“The sale with security is that something has to go wrong before people take it seriously. It’s a horrible thing,” McLean said of the attacks, “but it has brought to light the importance of security. We think of security as a technology issue, but security is an issue more around behavior.”

While a fear of future attacks could prompt companies to better protect their networks, McLean said the impetus for beefing up security could also come through government legislation.

“What’s going to make security take off is when companies are mandated to due a certain level of due diligence around security,” he said.

Though he could not provide any hard numbers, McLean said as a service area, security is one of the higher IT growth areas in Canada.

IDC has predicted nine per cent growth for IT spending in Canada this year. That projection was made before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, but McLean said he doubted the fallout from the attacks or an uncertain economy will result in a growth rate more than one per cent lower than originally anticipated.

For large communications companies, McLean said the present is a particularly good time to buy.

“You’ve got a situation where over the past four years, a lot of companies have gone into the market and a lot of them have failed,” he said. “If you’re a large carrier, you can probably buy a good set of infrastructure for a bargain price.”

McLean said there are a number of IT areas that are expected to grow significantly in the near future, including utility provision of IT communications, voice over IP (VoIP), e-learning and of course, security.

While there is a certain amount of risk inherent in having an outside party manage a company’s network – the service provider could go bankrupt, for example – McLean said companies that have adopted the utility overwhelming report satisfaction with it.

With respect to e-learning, McLean pointed to IDC research that predicts 60 per cent of companies will have e-learning solutions for employees by the end of the year.

“If there is a driver right now for video being implemented into the network, it is e-learning,” McLean said, adding that initial interest in videoconferencing after the attacks in the United States will probably die down as people regain confidence in air travel.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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