SDI Debuts Tiered Managed Small Business Security Services

Managed Services Provide Affordable Small Business Security

Selling small business security is a challenging field, but Secure Designs (SDI) — a managed service security provider focused purely on SMBs — this month introduced a new concept that it hopes will take the pain out of small business IT by helping SMBs meet their data security needs.

The Red, White and Blue suite of small business security solutions is a tiered set of managed services that allows companies to buy exactly the data security they need. The first tier, the Red Solution, consists of 24×7 perimeter defense for small business networks. The next tier, the White Solution, incorporates Red and adds email encryption. The final tier, the Blue Solution, incorporates both Red and White and adds data encryption and backup services.

“The biggest challenges for SMBs are twofold,” said Ron Culler, chief technology officer at SDI. “First, there’s a lack of understanding and perception of what their security needs are. And second, once they understand what their needs are, there’s a very strong price sensitivity because of the economic environment. Our major innovation in the SMB segment is to, firstly, provide a really robust and easily understood set of security services; and secondly, deliver them at extremely aggressive price points.”

SDI focuses on providing managed small business security to what it calls micro-SMBs: firms with 100 or fewer employees at a particular location.

“Because we are really focused on micro-SMBs and we’ve got a critical mass of 2,500 locations, it enables us to be the low-cost provider in that particular arena,” Culler said.

SDI specializes in security and VPN and acts as a master managed-service provider (MSP), turning to a host of partner MSPs to help supply other pieces that fall outside its domain expertise. It then packages all the services together, creating an offering that’s greater than the sum of its parts. It typically works with integrators, who have relationships with customers and are able to serve as trusted advisors to those customers, making sure their needs are addressed.

Red Solution: Providing Network Security

The Red Solution is based on the network security offerings of SDI partner SonicWALL. SDI said it provides customers with a complete network perimeter defense plan that features firewall, unified threat management, intrusion prevention, VPN, secure wireless and failover for connectivity redundancy.

Culler explained that SDI pre-configures a box for each client at its facility, based on some prep work and customer questionnaires.

“It’s simple enough that a receptionist can actually install it,” he said. “All of the information off those systems comes back to our facility, where we do all the reporting, logging and management.”

White Solution: Add Email Encryption

The White Solution adds a secure communications package to the Red Solution, including email encryption services provided by SDI partner ZixCorp. SDI noted the White Solution is a good answer for small business networks that need to comply with regulations but lack the staff or expertise to implement in-house solutions, particularly professional services, healthcare and financial services customers. For instance, CPAs often have few employees but face a high regulatory burden.

“Security is definitely a hot button for CPAs, and compliance issues are huge,” said Wayne Hutchins, a CPA. “Ensuring confidentiality and security is the name of the game right now, especially with sensitive email communications. I’ve got to let folk like Secure Designs be my experts in the area because I don’t have time to do it and more importantly, I don’t understand it.”

The White Solution sits between the customer’s mail server and the rest of the Internet, Culler explained. When the customer sends an email, the server connects securely to SDI, the email is encrypted, and then it is sent. When email comes in, it first goes to SDI, gets decrypted, and then gets passed back to the customer’s mail server.

Blue Solution: Add Data Encryption and Data Backup

The Blue Solution adds full disk encryption and data backup services to the Red and White Solutions, securing devices and the data they contain. The encryption piece is powered by PGP Security, while the data backup services are powered by SDI partner BackBlaze.

“The encryption piece is completely standalone,” Culler said. “Once that’s installed, they never have to check back with us unless they have an issue where they forget their password. We can actually issue them a one-time key to reset their password.”

Because SDI is focused on the micro-SMB market, it is very conscious of price, according to SDI Chief Operations Officer Larry Cecchini. He noted that a common Blue deployment for a CPA firm with three users would come to $120 a month.

“These new bundles of services represent a quantum leap for our company and our customers,” Cecchini said. “It’s another example of SDI’s aggressive commitment to rising head and shoulders above the competition. No one in the country can match this offering for this market. We also feel strongly that the value they represent is unprecedented and untouchable in the market today. They are unique category form breakers. And each is affordable to the smallest organization and scalable for larger concerns.”

Thor Olavsrud is a contributor to and a former senior editor at He covers operating systems, standards and security, among other technologies.

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