Feeds

Symantec hedges bets with large stake in hosted security

MessageLabs deal pilots security giant into cloud computing

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Analysis Symantec, traditionally one of the more conservative firms in the security market, is attempting to pull off a high-wire balancing act with its surprise $695m acquisition of security software-as-a-service pioneer MessageLabs. The firm is betting that increased revenues in the hottest segment of the security market will justify a high (especially for the current economic climate) acquisition price.

It's also betting it can avoid the possible cannibalization of its traditional on-premise security market, while navigating the tricky business of keeping MessageLabs' technology suppliers, direct competitors to Symantec such as Kaspersky and Sophos, on-side.

Against this the deal offers a good chance to sell MessageLabs services into markets where it has traditionally been weak - the Americas, outside the US, Asia and continental Europe. It also gains the chance to offer a greater range of technologies as a hosted service.

Symantec chief exec John Thompson explained: "MessageLabs has a strong customer base into which we can cross-sell our current online services such as backup storage and remote access".

More than one way to crack a nut

Three technology options have evolved for dealing with problems such as spam filtering, and blocking threats including malware contained in email messages and malicious code on booby-trapped websites. These options are the traditional approach of security software packages running on PCs or servers, specialist appliances, and software as a service.

While the traditional software market is growing in single digit figures, appliance revenue growth is in the low teens and SaaS revenues are expanding at around 20 per cent a year. Whether the high growth rates of (security) software as a service will be maintained is open to question but in the meantime Symantec wants to make hay while the sun shines, paying a high price for a slice of the action.

"As customers recalibrate their infrastructure we hope to gain a bigger share overall. We will not be cannibalizing our existing customer base," Thompson explained.

Adrian Chamberlain, chief executive officer at MessageLabs, added: "Joining with Symantec we can leapfrog into new markets we might not have been able to access for years. In addition there's the potential for us to develop Symantec protection products as an online service, expanding the portfolio, as well as creating a potential to cross-sell existing products."

MessageLabs email filtering services cover much the same technological function as Brightmail spam filtering appliances, another Symantec acquisition. "I'm not concerned at all that we can have Brightmail on premise and MessageLabs, and that the two will work with each other," Thomspson said.

Head in the clouds

Symantec is positioning the MessageLabs purchase as giving customers the option of either on-premise or off-site approaches to solve the same information security challenges. It doesn't see a move into cloud computing as a fundamental architectural shift in how security technologies are delivered, unlike some of its principal competitors - most notably McAfee, Trend Micro and Panda Software.

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think

Next page: Gone Shopping

More from The Register

next story
14 antivirus apps found to have security problems
Vendors just don't care, says researcher, after finding basic boo-boos in security software
'Things' on the Internet-of-things have 25 vulnerabilities apiece
Leaking sprinklers, overheated thermostats and picked locks all online
iWallet: No BONKING PLEASE, we're Apple
BLE-ding iPhones, not NFC bonkers, will drive trend - marketeers
Multipath TCP speeds up the internet so much that security breaks
Black Hat research says proposed protocol will bork network probes, flummox firewalls
Only '3% of web servers in top corps' fully fixed after Heartbleed snafu
Just slapping a patched OpenSSL on a machine ain't going to cut it, we're told
Microsoft's Euro cloud darkens: US FEDS can dig into foreign servers
They're not emails, they're business records, says court
Plug and PREY: Hackers reprogram USB drives to silently infect PCs
BadUSB instructs gadget chips to inject key-presses, redirect net traffic and more
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
prev story

Whitepapers

7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
A new approach to endpoint data protection
What is the best way to ensure comprehensive visibility, management, and control of information on both company-owned and employee-owned devices?