Symantec Move up The Scale, but can they Ring the Bell?

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It is always interesting to spend extended time with a vendor, especially when they put up their entire executive team for interviews and discussions. It makes you feel that they are on the verge of something they consider quite exciting and have no shame in talking about it.

So it was with Symantec at their recent Fusion conference held at the Hague.

This was a multi-track event on similar lines to Microsoft TechEd, with about 1600 attendees. Of course it was less than half the size of a Microsoft event but it seemed to reflect the gung-ho view of Symantec as they climb up the ladder to become a player in many markets.

The underlying strategy now talked about by Symantec is “to secure and manage your information driven world”. This did have a ring of “Information at your Fingertips” but thank goodness was not as cheesy as “Where do you Want to go Today?”. The mantra being exercised was protect – manage – control and everything Symantec seems to be doing now involves one or more aspects of this threesome.

Fuelling Symantec’s bullishness is the huge increase in security threats, from malware through to viruses coupled with a suggested 6x increase in storage requirements from now until 2011. Play this out against the Symantec portfolio of security transformation, information risk management, endpoint transformation and data centre transformation products you start to see why team Symantec believe the good days are yet to come.

Of course I could not fail to notice the twinkle in John W. Thompson’s eye (Symantec CEO) when he spoke about SaaS and future acquisitions. This was of course due to the immanent announcement of yet another acquisition by Symantec, that of MessageLabs, which will add a significant boost to the Symantec story.

So what now for Symantec?

Clearly, as I have said before, it all comes down to execution, execution and execution. Talking to the execs of previous Symantec acquisitions it would appear that internally assimilation into the Symantec way is not too traumatic and post-acquisition staff attrition is minimal.

Externally acquisitions face different challenges.

Symantec already faces questions from customers about the MessageLabs products and the quality of technical support and ongoing product development. Will this be as good as it has been from MessageLabs?

Of interest is how McAfee react to Symantec’s plans and what this means for smaller players such as Sophos, who recently announced their acquisition of respected endpoint security vendor Utimaco. As for the biggest elephant in the room, if I was working in Redmond I would be viewing Symantec with a lot of interest.