The Changing Face of NAI

In an interview with eWEEK, top NAI executives discuss the company's recent purchases of IntruVert and Entercept as well as the company's future product plans and strategy.

WASHINGTON—This year has been nothing if not eventful for Network Associates Inc. The first five months of 2003 have seen the Santa Clara, Calif., security vendor restate several years of earnings due to an accounting issue, endure investigations by both the Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission and acquire two up-and-coming intrusion prevention vendors. Most recently, NAI went through a round of layoffs as it continues to try and refocus its product lines. Senior Editor Dennis Fisher sat down with Gene Hodges, president of NAI, Sandra England, executive vice president of corporate development and strategic research and Robin Matlock, vice president of product marketing at McAfee Security, to discuss the recent purchases of IntruVert Networks Inc. and Entercept Security Technologies as well as the companys future product plans and strategy.

eWEEK:: How is the integration of the new acquisitions progressing?

England: Our initial focus has been integrating Entercept into McAfee because there are a lot of synergies with the technologies with the signature-based and behavior-based approaches. Were developing some integrated product plans, too.

Hodges: The big challenge is, this isnt just two new product lines; its the future of the company. IntruVert and Entercept took over Network Associates in a way. You know, you get used to doing anti-virus with some network management and then something like this comes along and it changes the landscape.

eWEEK:: Do you expect it to be easier for you to get these products in front of buyers than it was for Entercept and IntruVert?

England: Yes. We have a great footprint in the marketplace, whereas a small company would have a harder time doing that.

Hodges: Both companies have a lot of traction. My experience is that customers are very eager to deploy intrusion prevention but the question is, does it work?

eWEEK:: The acquisitions had a big effect on market. Who do you see as your main competitors now?

Matlock: In a lot of ways, it changed the marketplace. There are still a lot of smaller niche players, though.

England: It changed the landscape pretty dramatically. I think the big players will be Cisco and us.

eWEEK:: What kind of integrated products are you working on?

England: The first integration will be bringing together Entercept and McAfee, integrating the behavior-based blocking with the signature technology of the anti-virus. Were in a unique position to leverage anti-virus and intrusion prevention at the host. The product teams are working fast furious on that right now.

Hodges: We want to move Entercept to the desktop rapidly. There will also be some IntruVert and Sniffer integration soon. In a very real way, the people who man network intrusion prevention devices are the same people who manage Sniffer devices. And most security teams are in a fight for control with the operations people.

eWEEK:: You mentioned Cisco earlier as tough competition. Do you think Symantec will be a competitor in this market?