Trend Micro CEO Eva Chen has made no secret of her company’s software as a service strategy. In the past year, the Japan-based company has launched a number of SAAS initiatives, pushing security into the cloud. Its latest acquisition, Identum, will add to the company’s cloud computing portfolio.
In discussions with eWeek’s Brian Prince, Chen laid out why last month’s purchase of UK-based Identum fit into the company’s strategic roadmap, and whether SAAS will become the dominant delivery model for security in the future. Here is an edited transcript of the conversations.
What were Trend Micro’s reasons for acquiring Identum?
I think the interesting thing about why we acquired Identum is that Identum is an encryption technology, but their technology is mainly on the key management. In our mind the most important, the biggest part about encryption is actually key management because, you know PKI has existed, encryption has existed for years.
Why companies did not widely deploy it…is because the key management, the encryption key management was a very, very difficult and a very hard to manage process for a lot of corporations. Identum has this unique technology of identity-based encryption, and making the key management, key exchange much easier. That’s why we acquired Identum.
That is a nice integration into our overall content security profile because we always believe content security is about who is doing what and where, and this identity based encryption adds to the who part.
That also seems to play into the whole idea of DLP, which Trend Micro made a play in when it purchased Provilla.
Yes. Trend Micro, our acquisition strategy has always been very targeted at the technology that can fit into (our) strategy … rather than trying to buy revenue or trying to buy market share.
How do you see Identum’s key-sharing technology being adapted to uses beyond mail encryption? Will [Identum’s] Private Post platform be expanded to handle other types of data in transit?
Encryption is a key addition to our overall content security focus to better serve our customers. E-mail encryption is one of the toughest encryption nuts to crack. Identum cracked this nut. It opens great opportunities in securing data across the board. We are still exploring the where’s and how’s of delivering solutions using the technology.
Acquisition helps in competition
Can you elaborate a little on how Identum’s technology will play into your SAAS strategy?
Software as a service is a key thrust to Trend Micro’s customer offerings on both the e-mail and web side. You can look at InterScan Hosted Messaging Service to see some of what we offer today. The E-mail encryption technology provided by Identum dovetails nicely with such offerings.
How does this acquisition help the company compete with McAfee and Symantec? Also, EMC (RSA) and VeriSign when it comes to encryption?
The Identity-based Encryption (IBE) technology provided by Identum overcomes many of the obstacles that obstructed previous PKI encryption solutions. Public Key Infrastructure, or PKI, is problematic for many enterprises. The IBE technology enables us to provide solutions and value not found amongst other security industry leaders.
What types of things, purely from a technology standpoint, would Trend Micro be interested in adding to its portfolio?
I think as we move more and more of our technology in the cloud, the cloud computing technology, whatever type of cloud computing technology, is always interesting to me. The other [interest] is to enhance our performance, our scalability of the in-the-cloud, would be technology that I’m really interested in.
Do you think SAAS, will that become the primary delivery model for security? Do you see that happening?
I think it’s still in the transition, and it will be a hybrid model. If you talk about SAAS, everything on the cloud, that’s not possible because you still need a small agent at the desktop, and you still have something on the PC. You need to protect the PC. So I think technology-wise it’s going to be a hybrid model, and business model-wise I think it’s a transition.
There’s still customers that want to buy software, customers (who) want to buy the appliances, so I think this market will still combine with three sets of delivery models. But 20 years from now, who knows? Maybe most of the people will be using SAAS, or a hybrid-some flavor of SAAS will be in the software delivery model.
Editor’s Note: This story was updated to correct Trend Micro CEO Eva Chen’s name.