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Symantec to extend security management portfolio

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ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

Having released the first stage in its security management software strategy last month, Symantec Corp's president and COO, John Shwarz, has been talking to ComputerWire about the Cupertino, California-based company's plans to expand its management strategy.

The first stage in the plan was the release of Security Management System, a suite that allows firewalls, intrusion detection systems (IDS) and anti-virus software to be managed from a single, central interface.

The suite includes Event Managers, which consolidate and normalize logs from firewalls, IDS and anti-virus from Symantec and other vendors, and Incident Manager, which provides a place to correlate "events", extract from them "incidents", and then guide the administrator through to their resolution.

The next stage in the company's plan includes building new layers on top of the Security Management System architecture, said Shwarz. The first stage is the repositioning of its existing Enterprise Security Manager product, which is being renamed Policy Manager. "Policy Manager will be the first tool to sit on top of SMS and enable you to manage security from a policy perspective," commented Schwarz. The product is a vulnerability assessment and management tool, which assesses enterprise-wide policy compliance.

Following that, the next major step is the addition of another layer, tentatively titled the Remediation Manager, which will provide active, as opposed to passive, monitoring and management, said Schwarz. "Its job will be to give operators a more fine-grain toolset to apply a policy in real-time, targeting specific users, machines, appliances, URLs or email IDs."

Due for release in the middle of next year, Remediation Manager will work with Incident Manager to locate and correlate network events and provide an administrator with the information to take the appropriate action to nullify the threat without impacting overall network performance. "The job of the incident manager is to locate the ID," added Schwarz, "the job of the Remediation manager is to deal with it."

The release of Security Management System, and similar products from competing vendors such as Network Associates Inc and BindView Inc, indicates the converging nature of the security management market. While users have previously had to use multiple security software products from multiple vendors, the likes of NAI and Symantec are now providing management suites that consolidate the management of firewalls, intrusion detection systems and anti-virus suites.

This trend has also come to the attention of systems management vendors, such as Computer Associates Inc and IBM Corp's Tivoli. CA's vice president of eTrust research and development recently commented: "There will be a war to see who will come out of this and only one or two will dominate in the management position."

According to Schwarz, the winners will not be the systems management vendors. "It's not being driven by the systems management vendors," he said. "In order to be credible in the security space you have to be credible as a provider of content and response. Systems management vendors can't do that."

Shwarz added that the differing goals of network and security management also need to be considered, and that the differences will keep systems and security management as separate disciplines. "Organizationally speaking, the people that manage the network and the people that manage security have differing goals," he said. "The network manager's job is to keep the network up, and the security manager's job is to close the network down if there's a threat. Most customers driven by industry standards will want to keep these separate. You want checks and balances to keep the decision a matter for two heads, rather than one."

© ComputerWire

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