Is Symantec on track? Probably. Will it be successful? Maybe

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Content Copyright © 2010 Bloor. All Rights Reserved.

In October last year I penned a commentary piece on Symantec, finishing the article with the line, “Is Symantec on track? Probably. Will it be successful? Maybe.”

This year’s Vision 2010 Europe event was a chance to see what they have been up to and to check point their progress.

Enrique Salem, CEO, articulated his vision based on the evolution of Symantec, now entering its third phase, The first two phases saw the transition of the company from software publishing through a product-centric world and now a refocus on making Symantec “relevant to today’s world.”

The company will follow 6 of what they call megatrends over the next few years:

  • Consumerisation of IT
  • IT-isation of the consumer
  • Mobile
  • Social
  • Virtualisation
  • Cloud

No surprises here, but they do need to come up with a better term than the dreadful term IT-isation. It basically means that consumers are now driving the adoption of technology and the need for security vendors and practitioners to be in front of the threat curve. As many security professionals are finding out supporting the tide of iDevices is a nightmare, so any help they could get to be ahead of the game would be really appreciated.

The huge array of products from Symantec are at long last being squashed together to form 4 product suites, so at least we should see better coordination even if we don’t quite get the centralised management tools many customers look for.

Symantec are not poor—in fact a recent round of funding has seen a war chest available for acquisitions. After all, cash earns a pathetic rate of interest, even when you are a multi-billion dollar business, so expect to see some merger and acquisition activity in support of delivering the Symantec growth strategy. Likely areas will be mobility, SaaS and solutions that help with the contextual analysis of data, so any boutique vendors out their with cool solutions give Symantec a call, you may be able to get your exit at long last.

So what of the elephant in the corner AKA the Intel/McAfee deal?

The public face of Symantec accompanies any discussion of the subject with a perplexed look and a degree of (fake?) incredulity. Admittedly they are in good company as few with insight can see how the fit will work—even at the basic level how much of the McAfee portfolio can actually be engineered in to silicon? Or is this a step too far for Intel?

Of course Intel needs to diversify, and they have a huge war chest (now $7bn lighter) able to be deployed as and when required, but how far should they go?. Symantec have a pretty cosy relationship with Intel, something that seemed to attract amusement at the conference that was part sponsored by the ubiquitous chip maker. No doubt to hedge their bets Enrique Salem admitted to developing relationships with other chip vendors. And any discussion of the Intel/McAfee deal was accompanied by the audience being reminded that Symantec is “the largest security vendor in the world.” So will Symantec be acquired? Well, think back to April this year (2010) when it was believed that HP may be out to purchase McAfee. If they are interested in a security and data management company then maybe they could go after Symantec, but at a market capitalisation around $12bn it would be an expensive purchase.

Is Symantec on track? Probably. Will it be successful? Maybe.

Has that line changed? Not yet.

Let’s review it again in a years time.