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Former Symantec CEO Eubanks praises Thompson

Former Symantec CEO Gordon Eubanks is praising outgoing Symantec CEO John Thompson for successfully diversifying the company. Eubanks also said vendors should prep for SaaS.

Former Symantec CEO Gordon Eubanks is praising outgoing CEO John Thompson for his leadership and ability to diversify Symantec to reach into virtually all areas of enterprise security. Eubanks was Thompson's predecessor in 1999.

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Symantec announced Nov. 17 that Thompson plans to step down in March. Eubanks wouldn't critique individual decisions Thompson made during his tenure, but said as a result of Thompson's acquisition strategy, Symantec is poised to weather tough economic times.

"He's done an incredible job," he said. "One of the things about Symantec is that it's been able to evolve and change and it continues to do that. That's one of the strengths of the company."

"One of the things about Symantec is that it's been able to evolve and change and it continues to do that. That's one of the strengths of the company."

Gordon Eubanks, Former Symantec CEO

Companies that endure like Symantec have shown the ability to be flexible and go through periods of change, he said.

Enrique Salem, who will take over as Symantec CEO, is another exceptional person, Eubanks said, calling him a "super nerd and a great sales guy." Eubanks oversaw the acquisition of Norton in 1990, bringing Salem to Symantec. Salem was an individual contributor in the engineering department, Eubanks said. He was the key architect and programmer for Norton desktop for Windows. Salem currently serves as chief operating officer, with responsibility for global product development, sales, marketing and IT.

"He's extremely technical, very bright and a really great guy," Eubanks said.

Symantec has its roots in antivirus, but some experts say that antivirus signatures are no longer effective and companies should be implementing behavioral-based technologies. But Eubanks believes traditional antivirus software will continue to persist and be used by companies in combination with heuristics to detect attacks.

"Once you rely 100% on heuristics to detect attacks, you really give the bad guys a roadmap of how to attack because now they know which doors are locked," he said.

After stepping down from Symantec in 1999, Eubanks was CEO of identity and access management vendor Oblix Inc., and steered it toward Web services management before it was acquired by Oracle in 2005. He has since been active on a number of technology vendor boards and is keeping a close eye on software-as-a-service (SaaS) as a delivery model. Eubanks said the tough economy could help the SaaS market.

Software vendors need to retool their infrastructure and business model to deliver software and services in an on-demand or SaaS model, Eubanks said. Those that don't could end up being obsolete.

"If you're currently delivering packaged goods and recognizing revenue as licenses sold, you're going to have a difficult transition," Eubanks said.

He recently joined the board of directors for Perimeter eSecurity, a SaaS security vendor that sells access to its hosted network defense, intrusion detection and email security software. Eubanks said Perimeter has been ahead of the SaaS movement. Eubanks is also on the board of directors of Concur Technologies Inc., a SaaS vendor that sells access to expense reporting, travel and meeting management software.

Eubanks predicts that a decade from now, virtually all IT services will be in the cloud. He said companies are currently learning of the cost savings of managed security services. Small and midsized businesses can simplify IT operations and get the same level of expertise that large corporations get, he said.

"The cost of putting in place an IT infrastructure and putting people in place to manage it is pretty daunting and the knowledge base that people have to have is pretty high and changes rapidly," Eubanks said. "Other than largest companies, virtually all IT will come over the wire."

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