It's been a year since Symantec's acquisition of MessageLabs. In an interview with eWEEK, former MessageLabs CEO Adrian Chamberlain, now head of Symantec's software-as-a-service business, discusses the security company's plans for the SAAS space in the coming year and drops some hints on where Symantec may be headed.
One of the underlying trends in security of late has been
of cloud-based services.
On the acquisition front, the past few years have
seen several independent SAAS security vendors get gobbled up.
Among those was Symantec's
acquisition of MessageLabs.
After more than a year under Symantec's wing,
former MessageLabs CEO Adrian Chamberlain-now
senior vice president of Symantec's Software-as-a-Service group-said he sees a
future with even more security technology in the cloud.
"The world is moving toward security-based services,"
Chamberlain said in an interview with eWEEK earlier in December. "You can
see the penetration in the developed countries of hosted security displacing
licensed software and appliances."
For Symantec, taking advantage of that means blending not
only hosted and on-site technology but also the respective sales forces and channels.
In the year since the acquisition, Symantec has recognized the inherent
differences between customer operations and R&D in its services and
licensed software businesses as well as the relationship between those units
and marketing, Chamberlain said. Looking ahead, the company will stress what it
feels is appropriate bundling of services and software businesses.
"Stage two, which is about to happen quite soon, is to
put hosted variations of our offerings within the Symantec protection suites,"
The company is on that road with Symantec Data Loss
Prevention 10, which allows users of hosted e-mail security services to
monitor and protect outbound e-mails without requiring on-site e-mail gateway
"In many ways I think not just with us, but with almost
all the hosted services providers, many of our customers are ahead of us in
saying they'd like services in the cloud we simply haven't developed yet
because it's just tough ... We know we see big demand for Web services ... and for
more and more sophistication in the ability to set policy around the Web usage,"
Chamberlain said. "We see a big demand for archiving, business continuity
Customers are also showing an interest in URL filtering, he
"The services I've just described really are in their
infancy in being developed ... I think you will see further developments where
technology will be able to manage files in the cloud ... that will further
advance the argument for shifting on-premises or licensed software solutions
into the cloud to set policy," he said.
Symantec's emphasis on SAAS should not come as a surprise. Symantec
CEO Enrique Salem predicted SAAS would
account for 15 percent of the company's business in five years. However, a
number of challenges remain before the acquisition can be truly successful,
opined Forrester Research analyst Jonathan Penn.
"Most notably, there's the technical integration
between [on-premises] e-mail security and hosted: There shouldn't be a notable
difference in quality of protection between [on-premises] and hosted, and for
that to happen they must run off of a unified technology platform that creates
parity between the two offerings," Penn said. "Second is the way in
which Symantec takes all this to market, which today is as two distinct
solutions. Symantec should be packaging this such that customers selecting
Symantec for e-mail security should be able to select their preferred delivery
model simply as an implementation option. As it stands today, the packaging is
not at all integrated in this fashion."
Other vendors will also face the same challenges. There were
a number of acquisitions
in the security SAAS space
in 2009, including McAfee's purchase of MX
Logic, Cisco Systems' acquisition of ScanSafe and Barracuda Networks buying
Purewire. Where Symantec will seek to differentiate itself, Chamberlain said,
is by trying to offer the most complete and integrated portfolio of security
"You can buy these services at the moment through a
series of point plays, you can get archiving specialists, you can get Web
specialists ... what we expect customers will want is to buy the hosted services
of one provider who can offer a universal interface on which you can set policy
and authentication once," he said.