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Symantec to offload Altiris: report

Vision for 'total package' of security and endpoint management slipping away

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Almost six years to the day since announcing it would acquire infrastructure management outfit Altiris for a cool $US830m, Symantec is said to be offloading the company.

The Wall Street Journal reports “people familiar with the process” Symantec is willing to offload the products it acquired for less than the purchase price.

Symantec would not confirm or deny the report, but told Bloomberg it’s considering all manner of ways to put smiles on shareholders’ faces.

At the time of the acquisition, then-Symantec-CEO John W. Thompson talked up the benefits of integrating Altiris with Symantec’s security wares.

"The most secure endpoint is a well-managed endpoint. The best protection must be complemented by the ability to remediate and address vulnerabilities that could be exploited," Thompson said in the press release announcing the acquisition, adding his belief that "By combining the endpoint management solutions from Altiris with the security expertise from Symantec, we believe we can offer customers a more comprehensive solution to protect and manage the millions of connected devices that make up the fabric of today's global IT infrastructure."

Greg Butterfield, president and CEO of Altiris at the time of the acquisition chipped in with his opinion that "By combining our software solutions, services, and channel distribution strengths, Symantec and Altiris can offer our customers the 'total package' in endpoint management."

If the WSJ is correct, that 'total package' seems not have been particularly attractive to customers, a plausible scenario given strong competition in the endpoint management market including the ever-improving (and well-priced) Microsoft System Centre. "Fries with that" sales of management tools from virtualisation vendors may also be making it hard to for the likes of Altiris to find a home in data centres. Either scenario is bad news for Symantec given the pace at which virtualisation is making inroads and the spend your own money bring your own device bandwagon meaning a great many more endpoints will go into places where quality security and management will be needed more than ever.

The company does have other products for BYOD, so an exit from Altiris would not leave it entirely unable to service that market. But retreating to lesser management coverage of the enterprise would not be a good look, even if it relieved the company of a financial anchor.

Symantec is due to report its earnings next week, on January 23rd, when more details of its plans can be expected. ®

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