Paramount belongs to the rare breed of security VARs that were quite early to sight the potential that IT security domain held as a business proposition. The company was established in 1999 and has since positioned itself as a holistic Information Security Company with an extensive portfolio of solutions and straddling the four key areas of Technology Implementation, consulting, outsourcing and managed services.
Premchand Kurup, CEO, Paramount says, “We have a holistic view. We are not like a lot of our competitors that sell you point solutions. As a company, we believe in a holistic understanding of security. We are ten years old in Information Security but as a company, we are 17 years old in the PC industry. We decided it would be worthwhile and a good business proposition for us as a company to focus in one area, in this case Information Security, develop considerable expertise and aim for market leadership. We have able to achieve our objectives to a good extent although the market is still very fragmented.”
He adds, “We have a consulting practise wherein we do various activities such as penetration testing, vulnerability testing, risk assessment, consulting, business continuity plans etc. We have a technology implementation practise and there play right across the value chain providing secure content management, perimeter security, internal network security, Identity and access management, security event monitoring and management. So we cover the entire gamut as a security specialist.”
PCS is head quartered out of Dubai with operations in Abudhabi, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman. Its key customers are from Banking and Financial institutions, large governmental undertakings etc and the company has a considerable regional reach to address customer support.
Kurup says, “We have offices across the GCC including Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Dubai and Abu Dhabi. We sell and support from these locations. So we are one of the few companies in the Information security arena with a footprint across the entire GCC with the exception of Saudi Arabia. KSA is currently not on our agenda because we are tied up with the markets that we are currently addressing. We are busy focusing on the five GCC markets and trying to do our best there.”
Kurup also claims that it is a fallacy to say that markets like Oman are laggards in the region when it comes to IT spending. He says companies in key sectors such as Banking invest on a similar scale and have similar capabilities although the UAE continues to lead across the markets.
He adds, “Every market has national Banks and their understanding of business challenges and capability of investing in technology is around the same. We don’t underestimate any of the markets. I believe that these five countries put together will have an Information security market worth over 300 million USD in 2009. Out of these, the UAE would be the biggest and should account for at least 120 million USD.”
The company also claims to have the largest pool of Certified Security Engineers in the Middle East. It is an ISO 9001:2000 certified company and claims to be the first IT company to be ISO27001certified in the region.
Kurup says, “We have a team size of 70 across and 40 of these are technically competent engineers and consultants. So a majority are customer facing personnel with the competence to solve issues.”
The company recently held a successful security event at the Atlantis hotel in Dubai to highlight its security portfolio and to introduce some of the new technology additions. The security summit entitled ‘Optimizing and Securing IT Infrastructure in Challenging Times’ featured presentations and case-studies by senior executives from industry leading IT security vendors like Apere, Lancope, Palo Alto Networks and Imprivata.
Kurup says, “We had a splendid turnout with 170 people attending it. We had representatives from all our customers at the event. They learnt about the new technologies that we have launched. They have understood that data leak management (DLP) and identity access management (IAM) are the areas of greatest concern in the Information Security arena because most customers haven’t deployed any solutions around these. To draw an analogy, it would be like securing your wall compound and the gate but not doing anything to secure inside the home. In today’s scenario especially, there is also the possibility of a greater risk from insider threats especially in the wake of layoffs. Customers have a greater understanding of this now and they will try and get budget approvals for implementing these solutions.”
At the event, speakers educated the summit attendees about technologies like Imprivata’s OneSign converged authentication and access management platform, Palo Alto Network’s Firewall and Apere’s Identity Managed Access Gateway (IMAG) appliance for medium-sized enterprises. Lancope’s StealthWatch family of products was introduced as the only Network Behavior Analysis (NBA) and Response architecture that unifies flow-based network security and network optimization into a single, integrated enterprise platform. There were also presentations on Identity Governance and Management and the role of Virtualization.
Some of these new additions have added considerable depth to the range of security solutions that Paramount now offers its customers. The company has worked with most of the leading vendors in the security space and continues to build new partnerships in various niches.
Kurup says, “Our partnerships fall under various categories – secure content management, perimeter security, identity and access management etc. We introduced most of these brands to this market and have made them market leaders here in the past 10 years that we have been in business.”
Kurup rues the fact that while there is still a lot of clarity missing when it comes to customer understanding about IT security. It also boils down to the fact that there are few companies that are thoroughbred security specialist VARs.
He says, “There is not enough number of companies focusing only on Information Security business. The fact that there are customers who think of Firewall as an extension of the router and switch and there are also networking companies that also provide security solutions is complicating the scenario. Once customers understand that there is a high degree of specialism required in Information Security, they will go with the security specialists. This is similar to choosing between a General Physician or Cardiologist to address a patient’s heart ailment. We are like the Cardiologist when it comes to Information Security.”
Kurup claims that as a specialist, Paramount brings an assured value to the customer’s network security and it starts with clarity in thinking out the customer’s present network deficiencies. The company also leverage its expertise in the understanding of network architectures before creating a suitable network security plan.
He says, “Our work starts with analysing a customer’s network and drawing out a network architecture design as it stands today. You can improve your network security by redesigning without adding any component. Once that is achieved, we do a security architecture design and that is superimposed on the network architecture. We don’t do routing or switching but we have CCNA, CCNP and other network specialists that understand networking. Our understanding of routing and switching is critical to our deployment of the firewall and security deep inside the network and this is our value add to our customers.”
The company is confident that IT security will continue to be one of the stronger segments in the IT industry. In fact, security spend is likely to grow further this year as business tackle a growing scenario of threats. Kurup says that there are reasons to believe that the spending in this sector is unlikely to decrease this year.
He says, “I don’t think security will ever become a casualty. According to the US president Obama, there are sufficient cyber security issues today. So if cyber security infrastructure today is a strategic national asset as he mentioned, you would need a separate budget for it and a separate process as well. The importance that Obama is giving to cyber security is reflected by the fact that the US advisor for cyber security is going to report directly to him. If that is the unfolding scenario globally, it underlies the relevance for all companies to have a clear understanding of their risk assessment.”
He quips that the economic issues notwithstanding, if the conclusion is that companies are exposed to high risks, they need to address those issues. It is the cost of doing business, Kurup believes. Security is thus paramount and certainly a good business to grow with.
Over the past decade, Paramount Computer Systems has build a leading security consulting and implementation practise in the region.