Symantec Buys Brightmail, and the Pieces Fit Perfectly

By Larry Seltzer  |  Posted 2004-05-20 Print this article Print

What took them so long? Brightmail and Symantec were close cousins and their product lines are basically complementary, so the combination should work well for both.

You couldnt call Symantecs purchase of Brightmail a big surprise. The two companies are corporate cousins. Theyre so related they must go to each others houses for Thanksgiving.

Brightmail Inc.s president and CEO, Enrique Salem, is a former head of the security business unit at Symantec Corp. A bio on Brad Kingsbury, vice president of engineering, says he was the "chief technologist at Symantec/Peter Norton Group, where he was the designer and developer of antivirus and utility applications, including Norton AntiVirus and Norton Utilities."
And there are other executive connections. Brightmail Anti-Spam already scans mail with Symantecs antivirus scanner. And Symantec already owns 11 percent of Brightmail.

Click here to read more about the deal. It really is a natural fit. I get pitched a lot of security products, and I see a lot of interest in consolidation to make things easier for buyers and administrators. Symantec has been growing its areas of network security coverage, but its antispam protection is limited to a good, but unspectacular, client-side product.

Im sure Brightmails perimeter server-based antispam solution has no hope of scaling down to a Windows device driver to be part of the next Norton Internet Security, nor would the Norton AntiSpam product scale up to protecting enterprises. Symantec actually does have a gateway-level antispam product called Symantec AntiSpam for SMTP, but its not a real industry leader like Brightmail. For the most part, the two companies are not just noncompetitors, they are like jigsaw puzzle pieces that fit together.

Brightmail has a lot of other partnerships, though, and I wonder whether the Symantec connection will muddy them up. Consider the integration of Brightmail Anti-Spam 5.0 and BorderWare Technologies Inc.s MXtreme Mail Firewall appliance. Perhaps Symantec doesnt have an exactly analogous product, but its in business lines perilously close. Im also sure BorderWare would rather tell its customers that its integrated with Brightmail Anti-Spam than with Symantec AntiSpam. Of course, its far too early to know what will happen to things like product names.

Next Page: Consolidation should bring better admin, packaging integration.

Larry Seltzer has been writing software for and English about computers ever since—,much to his own amazement—,he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1983.

He was one of the authors of NPL and NPL-R, fourth-generation languages for microcomputers by the now-defunct DeskTop Software Corporation. (Larry is sad to find absolutely no hits on any of these +products on Google.) His work at Desktop Software included programming the UCSD p-System, a virtual machine-based operating system with portable binaries that pre-dated Java by more than 10 years.

For several years, he wrote corporate software for Mathematica Policy Research (they're still in business!) and Chase Econometrics (not so lucky) before being forcibly thrown into the consulting market. He bummed around the Philadelphia consulting and contract-programming scenes for a year or two before taking a job at NSTL (National Software Testing Labs) developing product tests and managing contract testing for the computer industry, governments and publication.

In 1991 Larry moved to Massachusetts to become Technical Director of PC Week Labs (now eWeek Labs). He moved within Ziff Davis to New York in 1994 to run testing at Windows Sources. In 1995, he became Technical Director for Internet product testing at PC Magazine and stayed there till 1998.

Since then, he has been writing for numerous other publications, including Fortune Small Business, Windows 2000 Magazine (now Windows and .NET Magazine), ZDNet and Sam Whitmore's Media Survey.

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