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.
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.
After a time, the consolidation of the companies and product lines should make for better integration of both the administration and the packaging. You might see Brightmails software integrated into Symantec appliances, for example, and you might see Symantec Enterprise Security Manager managing Brightmail.
In fact, its another good opportunity to take one more directory out of the enterprise and give admins one less thing to manage on a day-to-day basis.
Like I always say, Im a big fan of services, and Brightmail is a product rather than a service (although at least one partner, Critical Path, implements Brightmail as a service for its customers, and I know others have done it as well).
Brightmails service-based competitors have been using the announcement of the sale as an opportunity for a dig at Brightmails model.
“Brightmail, with its software-based approach, only addresses a partial segment of the enterprise market,” said Steve Jillings, president and CEO of FrontBridge Technologies Inc. “Leading industry observers point to managed services as a more viable solution for eliminating spam and security threats, placing the task in the hands of third-party experts and off the to-do lists of already burdened IT managers.”
Postini Inc., which claims to be the fourth-largest mail processor in the United States (behind America Online Inc., Yahoo Inc. and Microsoft Corp.), makes similar points. “Brightmail touts impressive mailbox security numbers (300 million), but this is skewed by the fact that they do most of their business with ISPs and are much more consumer-oriented in their application sectors,” Postini officials said.
Getting in bed with Symantec wont make Brightmail into a service, but it might make it more manageable and integrated with an enterprise infrastructure.
Not everyones going to want a service for their spam protection, so Brightmail needs to make a better product, and integrating better with IT security is one way to do it.
Security Center Editor Larry Seltzer has worked in and written about the computer industry since 1983.
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