Best of Breed vs. Best Fit: Navigating Cybersecurity Solutions

Morey Haber, Chief Security Advisor, BeyondTrust delves into the intricacies of Best-of-Breed and Best-Fit approaches and explore how they should be applied to cybersecurity.

0 149

When it comes to licensing cybersecurity solutions, organisations are often faced with a crucial decision: to opt for a “Best-of-Breed” solution or to seek out the “Best-Fit” for their business requirements. Both approaches come with their own set of advantages and challenges and this dilemma can become particularly contentious when considering solutions that require customisation, configuration, and potentially excessive planning to implement. So, for simplicities sake, lets delve into the intricacies of these two approaches only and explore how they should be applied to cybersecurity.

Best-of-Breed

Best-of-Breed solutions are characterised by their excellence in a particular aspect, function, technology, or discipline. These solutions are often created by industry startups with creative resources and expertise dedicated to a specific cybersecurity domain, such as endpoint detection and response, identity security, or threat intelligence. However, there are edge cases where this is not always true, especially in existing or legacy markets. Organisations are drawn to Best-of-Breed solutions for their innovation, reliability, and vendor reputation as a dedicated solution as a specific business investment.

When it comes to cybersecurity, Best-of-Breed solutions typically offer a targeted approach for a scope of threats and risk mitigation. These solutions are frequently at the forefront of change, incorporating the latest technologies, standards, and methodologies to stay ahead of cutting-edge threat actors. Moreover, they typically experience exponential adoption and ground themselves with case studies, testimonials, and thought leadership that create a story around their best-of-breed solutions.

However, the allure of Best-of-Breed solutions can come at a cost. Customisation and configuration, to align with an organisation’s unique business requirements, can be complex, labour-intensive, or just outright not supported at all. They are generally cookie-cutter deployments that scale fast but are rigid for unique business requirements. Integration with existing infrastructure may also pose compatibility challenges especially for legacy environments, requiring other vendors to fill gaps for things like unique operating systems, legacy hardware, or custom-developed applications. Best-of-breed does not mean best of everything. It means it is the best for its designed scope but may not provide coverage or compatibility for all organisations.

Best-Fit

An alternative method for finding the best solution is based on suitability. Best-Fit solutions prioritise alignment with the specific needs and environments of an organisation. These solutions may come from any vendor — from the largest organisation (secondary products) to the smallest niche vendors — in the cybersecurity market. While they may not boast the same level of recognition or diverse feature set as their Best-of-Breed counterparts, Best-Fit solutions outrival their counterparts by addressing the precise requirements for their business.

Organisations typically choose Best-Fit solutions because of their flexibility and adaptability for a specific use case or workflow. These solutions are tailored based on a known problem, specific vendor integration, or configuration that streamlines a user experience or overall sustainability. By selecting this type of solution for the organisation’s potentially unique environment, businesses solve a problem without excessive overhead, heavy-weight solutions, and tooling that does not impede operational efficiency.

In addition, best-fit solutions have some traits that are often overlooked during cybersecurity evaluations. Best-fit vendors typically have a more personalised level of support and service since every client is crucial for their viability. With a focused customer base to manage, vendors of these solutions can afford to provide dedicated attention to their clients, offering timely assistance and guidance throughout the implementation and lifecycle of the solution, regardless of its complexity. This level of engagement can promote a mutual partnership leading to greater satisfaction and long-term success.

Best-fit however, does have some risks and concerns. If the vendors are truly small businesses, end users may experience their limited scalability, financial viability, dependency on a small number of employees for expertise, difficulty in hiring trained staff, and potential lack of comprehensive features compared to best-of-breed solutions. Organisations may find themselves exceeding the capabilities of a best-fit solution as their needs change or as the threat landscape evolves with new attack vectors. Additionally, the relative obscurity of some best-fit vendors may raise concerns about their long-term viability, supportability, and necessitate a careful evaluation and risk assessment.

Making the Decision

The decision between Best-of-Breed and Best-Fit solutions is not always a simple exercise. Organisations must grade and score innovation, specialisation, customisation, and support to determine the approach that best aligns with their business objectives, risk tolerance, and long-term costs.

For organisations with strict security controls and a need for a diverse solution that can be adjusted for multiple use cases, best-of-breed solutions may offer the necessary breadth and depth of capabilities to adapt to a changing threat landscape. Despite the challenges associated with customisation, configuration, and implementation, the long-term investment in best-of-breed solutions can be a demonstrable solution that mitigates a wide variety of attacks and issues, as a definable return on investment.

However, organisations operating in niche industries or facing unique security challenges based on tooling, workflows, operational technology, etc. may find that a best-fit solution offers the personal support and elasticity required to address their specific concerns. While these solutions may not be household names or offer diverse feature sets like their counterparts, their ability to support an organisation can provide invaluable advantages in the long run through support, roadmaps, and customisation.

Your Choice

In fairness, there is no one-size-fits-all solution — ever. Best-of-Breed and Best-Fit approaches each have their pros and cons, and the best choice depends on a multitude of factors, including organisational priorities, budget constraints, risk appetite, etc. Building an RFP (Request for Proposal) and a scoring mechanism for both is highly recommended to make the best decision for your organisation.

In the end, the best decision requires striking a balance between innovation, feasibility, specialisation, configuration, customisation, supportability and sustainability, to bridge the organisation’s strategy to the best type of solution. By embracing diversity in cybersecurity solutions where an organisation uses both types of solutions, and by adopting a pragmatic approach to decision-making, organisations can select the best cybersecurity solutions based on criteria verses vendor names and analyst reviews of big box brands.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Join our mailing list
Sign up here to get the latest news, updates and special offers delivered directly to your inbox.