Symantec Hosted Endpoint Protection Takes SMB Security into the Cloud

Symantec announced a new SAAS targeting small and midsize businesses. This offering deepens its competition with other security vendors such as McAfee, Websense and Trend Micro pushing SAAS as a delivery model.

Symantec launched a new cloud-based offering aimed at the small and midsize business market.

The service - dubbed Symantec Hosted Endpoint Protection - is designed to be managed from a Web-based console and is focused on protecting Windows-based laptops, desktops, and file servers. Leveraging Symantec's Global Intelligence Network for threat information, the service includes anti-virus, anti-spyware, firewall and host intrusion prevention.

Systems are updated automatically and transparently over the Internet to keep employee machines in line with client policies even when they are not logged into their corporate VPN, Symantec said. Administrators can receive real-time alerts via SMS or e-mail and perform a number of functions, including viewing system history, initiating a LiveUpdate to refresh system protection levels and changing local policy settings.

The new service continues Symantec's competition with other security vendors targeting SMBs with cloud offerings. McAfee for example announced a cloud-based Web protection service last year aimed at the midmarket, while Websense recently announced a new architecture called Triton to manage the company's on-premises and cloud security offerings through a single console.

According to Forrester Research analyst Jonathan Penn, Symantec is embracing SAAS (software as a service) as a delivery model more than any of the other major security vendors it competes with. The market opportunity is huge, particular in developed areas such as e-mail security as well as fast-growing segments such as vulnerability assessments and Web content security, he noted.

However, Symantec does face some challenges, he said.

"Many of Symantec's SAAS offerings come from acquisition...and hence are not on functional parity with its CPE (customer premise equipment) counterparts, nor is the management unified across CPE and hosted," he said.

In addition, Symantec's aggressiveness in developing and pushing its own SAAS solutions has the potential to create conflict with VARs and leading service providers also moving to SAAS for security solutions, he added.

Rowan Trollope, senior vice president of Symantec Hosted Services, commented that the new service separates itself from the pack by using a simple Web-based management console that allows businesses to easily manage and deploy security across their workforce. In addition, the service joins the company's already broad portfolio of SAAS products spanning e-mail, Web and IM security, he added.

"This new service leverages Symantec's 18 years of experience developing technology for endpoint protection and the 10-plus years of software-as-a-service leadership that we acquired through the acquisition of MessageLabs about 18 months ago," Trollope said.