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Consolidation's impact on best-of-breed security

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Cote says his company's desktops are protected by an integrated McAfee solution that includes firewall, antivirus and antispyware protection. "That sort of technology has a lot of value," Cote says. "Suites work very well. It would be nice to have a single agent on the desktop that does everything from a security perspective. When you use different agents, performance, ease of use and distribution gets to be a pain."

The crowded security market may present more choices to buyers. But that overcrowding shouldn't always be confused with a glut of innovation, Rothman warns.

"What's hot and innovative? Not a hell of a lot," he says. "There are slightly different takes on solving they same problem. In some areas, like application security, they're just catching up. Look at what they've been doing relative to what's been done on the network; application security is three-to-four years behind. It's been a while since we've seen something really innovative. Look at NAC and leak prevention; those are just slightly different takes on what we've been doing for a long time. These companies and solutions are really features of a bigger solution set."

Some interpret this granularity as an indicator of a healthy market and viability for smaller players.

"Find a niche and exploit it; there's always a new technology popping up, some of which is unique enough where it doesn't make sense for major players to go nuts," says Burton Group analyst Pete Lindstrom. "If you've

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got a single product and you can derive more revenue, reach more people and cost less, you'll be more viable. The question of market consolidation depends on how predatory the big players are."

Viable Targets?
Secure Computing, a gateway security provider, has been around since 1984, went public in 1995, sells to some of the biggest financial services and government agencies in the world and in the last two years has reported almost $300 million in revenue.

Sitting duck?

This was first published in September 2007

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