The wave of consolidation that has swept through the security industry in the last 18 months has cleared the way for a handful of large, diversified vendors to impose their will on the market for the foreseeable future.
At the forefront of this developing story are two companies that, until recently, would not have been on anyones shortlist to reshape the security industry: Symantec Corp. and Microsoft Corp. Recent acquisitions by both companies have positioned them to help customers integrate security throughout their infrastructures. But each company has a different idea of how that should be done.
Through the acquisition of anti-spyware maker Giant Company Software Inc., and anti-virus vendor Sybari Software Inc., Microsoft, of Redmond, Wash., has positioned itself to offer a variety of security solutions that are designed to integrate seamlessly with Windows and take advantage of some of the security technologies that Microsoft has built into XP Service Pack 2 and other products. Although Bill Gates, Microsofts chairman and chief software architect, said last week at the RSA Security Conference here that the company will release an anti-virus product by the end of this year, details of how the product will be delivered and what the enterprise offering will look like are still uncertain.
Microsoft plans to make its consumer anti-spyware product available for free but has not said what it has in store for enterprise customers. Still, many competitors see it has an inevitability that Microsoft will build both AntiSpyware and the anti-virus product into "Longhorn," the next version of Windows, due next year.
"Microsoft in that space scares the heck out of me. They are generalists, and thats a very specialized space," said Bart Lansing, manager of desktop services at Kohls Corp., in Menomonee Falls, Wis. "I dont trust Microsofts independence to filter out adware. I would hate it if they got big enough with this to do to the AV [anti-virus] market what they did to Netscape."
Symantec executives said they see Microsofts entry into the security market as a predictable move. Although Norton AntiVirus has been the companys daily bread for years, John Thompson, CEO of Symantec, in Cupertino, Calif., said his companys recent merger with Veritas Software Corp. is the key to Symantecs ability to give enterprises a line of products to build what he calls the "resilient enterprise."
Thompson said integrating Veritas products will give Symantec a depth and breadth of offerings that Microsoft, McAfee Inc. and Computer Associates International Inc. cant provide.
"Microsoft has done a remarkable job of getting the market to focus on security," Thompson said. "But its not sufficient for the enterprise."