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As Security Incite president and principal analyst Mike Rothman likes to say, "Big is the new small."
"Early on in the '90s, there was some cache to being an early adopter and getting on board with an innovative technology. But after a while when companies were getting their teeth kicked in, they were left in a situation where they have to start thinking about whom to do business with," Rothman says. "The trend is toward consolidation and a broader solution set. But in no way, shape or form do I think there is no opportunity out there for new solutions, especially for environments with unique business requirements."
Security is a haven for best-of-breed. The bigger the company, the more likely it is to invest in best-of-breed security solutions for everything from desktop protection, to network and application security. Very few vendors can secure a company across the board (see "Channel Surfing," p. 52), and those that promise to do so can't match the depth of a pure-play, standalone security vendors say.
"Network security is still so complicated; it requires a lot of domain knowledge in certain areas like what we specialize in--threats and monitoring," says Trend Micro CEO Eva Chen. "This is a very narrow space, and so many new threats are happening, it requires constant investment in this area to build up that knowledge, not to mention if you're focused on storage and other things."
Standalone vendors hedge their bets
"Our customers, our partners look for companies focused on security, not companies selling something else and security," says Check Point founder and CEO Gil Shwed. "That's something our customers are worried about. They want to see someone independent."
Reality is sometimes a little harsher for security managers, who cannot afford to be so cut-and-dried.
"It depends," says Houghton Mifflin's Cote. "I don't do stuff in a vacuum."
This was first published in September 2007