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A Billion dollar opportunity
Among Thompson's top lieutenants, Jeremy Burton is an anomaly. Most of Symantec's senior executives have been with the company for years; Burton came over as part of the Veritas acquisition. But he has quickly established himself as an integral part of the senior management and is the man mainly responsible for running what used to be the Veritas business. Integrating the company's data management, backup and storage business into Big Yellow has taken quite a bit of doing, but Burton and, more importantly, Thompson are satisfied with the results thus far.
Many observers, industry analysts and customers expected Symantec to integrate Veritas into the company in the literal sense, by actually combining products and technologies. However, that has not been—and likely will not be—the case for the most part. Instead, the company is working to bring together disparate approaches to problem-solving and product development, and is looking to apply various technologies to customer problems, whether they be security, storage or somewhere in the middle.
The common thread running through many of the initiatives is Symantec's focus on securing and managing the terabytes of unstructured data enterprises have sitting around in applications such as email and instant messaging. Burton,
group president of the enterprise security and data management group, believes such data represents an enormous risk to enterprises, and also a huge opportunity for whomever can help them organize and protect it.
"The risk that exists in data stored on file systems and email is huge," Burton says. "There's a billion-dollar opportunity in building applications to go against unstructured data. You have to look at the data in real time and historical context, and understand the risk."
Seth Shestack, acting CISO at Temple University in Philadelphia, has the same concerns Burton does about the relative insecurity of tools like IM. Temple, like most universities, has several different networks—academic and research among them—and each has its own security and openness requirements.
"I would say it's impossible to protect everything, overall," Shestack says. "We use the island concept and protect each one individually. But we have things like IM that we have to allow because there's so much demand for it. I'm really looking at the IM security problem. We don't manage IM, and that's not something I'm comfortable with.
I'm interested in what we can do about that with IMlogic [which Symantec acquired this year]. Where these things fit together—integrated support from them—is great. It's a time- and money-saver.
"That's one of Symantec's strengths," Shestack says. "But it's another thing to fully integrate the products and merge the technologies."
One outgrowth of Symantec's effort to protect data in transit is a project aimed at developing an application that inspects HTTP traffic and identifies sensitive data or files leaving an organization. The project is still in the research phase, but Burton is optimistic about its future.
Also on the horizon is an increased emphasis on managed security and availability services. Both Thompson and Burton pointed to managed services as a key area of both investment and potential revenue growth for the company in the coming year. Symantec currently has a handful of managed security services, but as the costs of running data centers continue to shoot upward, executives expect many more companies to look for ways to reduce those costs by handing off some of the management duties to outside vendors. Burton points to online backup, antivirus, antispam and remote access as key areas where Symantec has an opportunity to make a serious dent.
"Delivering managed services for SMBs is going to be a big thing for us next year," Burton says. "We can probably do a better job of protecting data and do it at a lower cost than they can. We will have a following wind on the economics of this. The costs of storage and bandwidth are dropping, and it could be a billion-dollar business in the future."
This was first published in November 2006