In the past, businesses would purchase security software like antivirus as a stand-alone application for each PC. For better control and to ensure that computers were updated, a server application was also purchased to monitor and maintain this software, making sure that the software was running and up- to- date. Today, the management of security and anti-malware applications has made its way into the cloud. This cloud-based delivery of software and applications is sometimes called SAAS or Software-As-A Service.
This is how it works. A company buys a license to run a security client on their computers. This client application typically includes firewall and anti-malware tools. Once the client is installed, it begins to communicate with servers in the cloud operated by the application vendor. A network administrator or managed service consultant can then log into the cloud-based administration portal to manage and maintain the client applications on each computer, as well as monitor them for problems. Full featured reporting and monitoring tools in the cloud can be set up to notify the appropriate person of an issue, even if they are not actively monitoring the clients.
Cloud-based management has several advantages over on-site management. Teleworkers and other corporate road warriors devices can be managed anywhere they go, insuring their laptops are always protected and security is up-to-date. Cloud-based management is generally very easy to set up and configure. Management, monitoring, and reporting can be done from anywhere in the world a connection to the internet is available. Because the management application is not installed locally, you do not need to maintain a server or use your own server resources to run the management application.
Today, most of the major developers of security and anti-malware applications have cloud-based security management solutions. I recommend talking to your IT professional or trusted IT advisor about switching to cloud managed security and evaluating a few for yourself to find out if the potential cost savings and other benefits are a good fit for your organization.