In the market for a security orchestration and automation platform but don’t know what solution is right for you? Or perhaps you’ve made some rushed decisions with past products and want to take a more careful approach this time around? We get it — sifting through all different security orchestration options on the market today is no walk in the park. At the end of the day, you hope to end up with a solution that meets your unique needs — even as they shift over time.

There are several signals you can gather early on in the buying process to help you determine if the products you’re evaluating will hit the mark both now and down the line. That’s why we put together this buying guide for security orchestration and automation technology to help you define the criteria you should be on the lookout for. But first, it’s important for you to clarify and understand why you need automation and orchestration.

Defining Your Needs

Companies turn to security automation and orchestration for many different reasons, and it’s important to clarify your needs before you dive into the details of the various options out there. Begin by defining what pain point(s) you’re looking to solve. Consider the following:

  • Is your security team getting too many alerts and feeling burnt out?
  • Is it time consuming to accurately gather information and prioritize actions without more context?
  • Is accurate and timely monitoring of security alerts posing a challenge to your team?
  • Do you have trouble hiring or retaining talent and are you looking to automate parts of security to compensate?
  • Do you have a set of repeatable and well-defined tasks that could be done faster by automation?
  • Is it cumbersome managing all your current custom automations and integrations?

Next, define your most common use cases. For example, some companies need to automate malware handling because it’s become a huge problem for them, whereas other companies need to orchestrate threat hunting and data enrichment tasks to get ahead of a huge volume of threats. Knowing what you need automation and orchestration for will help you evaluate solutions according to the following criteria.

Criteria for Choosing the Right Security Orchestration and Automation Platform:

1. Onboarding: Little to No Coding Required

One of the biggest investments companies make upfront when onboarding to a new tool is spending time writing code in order to get it deployed. But the whole name of the game here is to save time, so shouldn’t you be looking for a platform that doesn’t require coding to get up and running?

So long as you’re looking to save time (and money), it’s in your best interest to focus on the options that do the heavy lifting (aka coding) for you. Of course, it’s useful if the tool also allows you to extend its capabilities by building custom integrations on top of it, but you should be able to get out of the gate with very minimal effort on your part.

2. Setup: Ample Third-Party Integrations and Plugins

Next, you want to be sure the platform you choose has the right third party integrations and plugins for your specific use cases. This is why it’s important to define what they are before you begin evaluating your options. A good way to think about this is to look at your environment and note down the various tools you use and what they do for you on a regular basis. That way, when it comes to evaluating vendors, you can match those tools and processes to the ones offered by the vendor. For example, if your company uses Splunk to monitor for security issues, see what types of integrations the orchestration and automation platforms you’re evaluating support Splunk and can extend its use with deeper and broader workflows.

A solid security orchestration and automation solution should have a deep library of integrations, plugins, and workflows that are useful and robust, allowing you to utilize many different actions to suit your needs.

3. Customization: Make it Your Own

No two companies are alike, and as you grow, your needs may become even more specific. Only time will tell what your needs will be down the road, but the orchestration and automation platform you choose should be able to account for that.

That’s why it’s smart to find out if you ever need a very specific integration done, will the platform offer you the ability to build your own integrations on top of the existing ones? If not, you may find yourself stuck and unable to move as fast as you’d like. But if it does, the platform becomes infinitely flexible and far more valuable to you.

4. Deployment: Time to Value

When evaluating security orchestration and automation platforms, it’s also important to understand how long they each take to deploy. What resources will you need, human and infrastructure-related? Are there any other tasks or costs required in order to get the platform up and running?

You’ll also want to consider the deployment options. Some offer on-premise only, some cloud-only, and some offer both. Know where your tools reside (on-premise, in the cloud, or both) to help you further narrow in on your tool of choice. To that end, it’s also important to find out if you’ll need to hire professional services to get up and running or if your team can do it all in just a few clicks. Modern on-premise or SaaS platforms will make this as easy as possible so that even teams with little to no code can use it to its full extent, no professional services required.

5. Maintenance: Easy to Use

Not only should you be saving time upfront during the deployment process, there should be very little maintenance work to do from there on out. When you’re implementing a new integration, for example, is it easy to plug the tools you need into a workflow? Or, if an API changes the way it reports data, how does the vendor handle that? When you outsource automation and orchestration, all of this should be handled for you. You shouldn't have to monitor for broken processes or API updates on your own — you should be focused on your day job, and that’s what automation and orchestration should enable you to do.

It will also be useful to understand upfront what kind of ongoing support you will receive, should you run into an issue or have a question. Is there phone support included? What about email or chat support? You want to be sure you won’t be left in the dark should an issue arise.

6. Cost: How is Usage Priced?

At the end of the day, you want to know how much the platform is going to cost you. Each vendor charges differently, so it’s important to know what you’re agreeing to. Traditional security orchestration and automation solutions often require a full-blown onboarding and proof-of-concept period, which you have to pay for, while many modern ones let you get started today with without paying a dime for onboarding.

Once you know the upfront cost, find out what the ongoing costs look like. Do they charge a set fee every month, or is it based on usage? Usage can be tricky, as some vendors charge per user, per site, and even per number of workflows or API calls. This won’t do your team any good because you’ll be too scared away by price to even use it, despite what you’ve already paid for upfront! A pricing model that’s better on the conscious and the wallet is one that offers unlimited seats, workflows, API calls, and so on.

To date, Komand is the only orchestration and automation platform that offers unlimited usage across the board. Users shouldn’t be discouraged, but rather enabled, to benefit from all that automation and orchestration offers. For every vendor you evaluate, understand how many users, sites, and workflows are included in the price and if there are any overage fees to be aware of so you can gauge your price threshold.

7. Innovation: Customer-Driven Requests

How well and fast a company innovates can tell you a lot about the quality of their product. If the product hasn’t changed since inception, it probably never will. But if they’re continuously releasing new features and prioritizing popular customer requests, that’s a great sign that they’ll continue to meet your needs many years down the road. During the sales process, ask how the product team receives customer requests and how they prioritize their product roadmap.

A good way to find out how responsive a vendor is to customer input is by searching around the web or asking colleagues about their experience. If you find the company is responsive and customers are happy, that is a good sign, but if you find out otherwise, you may want to turn the other way.

Finding the Right Orchestration and Automation Platform for Your Company

Hopefully by now, you feel armed with the right criteria from which to evaluate all of your potential vendors. It’s important to do your due diligence to be sure the technology you choose is suited for your specific requirements. Learn more about Komand here.