Thought for the day:The yellow box road to enterprise security

Is it possible to run an enterprise system which allows multiple devices to communicate and maintain a secure information...

Is it possible to run an enterprise system which allows multiple devices to communicate and maintain a secure information environment? Simon Moores considers the optionsAttending Symantec's Vision 360 summit in London at the end of last week set me thinking. Here, Symantec, a company which has a reputation for selling products in yellow boxes, was using the event to launch its new Integrated Security Management System to potential and existing enterprise customers.

Steve Cummings from the National Infrastructure Security Co-ordination Centre and Sir Andrew Wood, the former British ambassador to Russia, were drafted in to help Symantec chief operating officer John Schwarz articulate the company's latest approach to keeping the lid on a growing global information security problem.

For Schwarz there are many different problems tugging at his development team and above all, "the sheer complexity - of increasingly blended threats - creating an unmanageable situation for most of us".

He compared the present, disjointed state of the industry with the early days of client-server computing, pointing out that different generations shared a systems management challenge in common. In such complex and increasingly multiple device-type environments we're surrounded by "dozens of highly specialised 'point' products that don't communicate".

You might think of this condition as a kind of "points failure" and, with statistics suggesting confidence in corporate information security is pretty low, solving the systems management problem in the wider security sense is a fundamental problem to be overcome.

As you might expect, Symantec has what it believes to be a new solution to this Tower of Babel Effect of the industry's own making. Just as interesting perhaps, is how, in the space of 18 months the company, whose strategy was once derided as "a blizzard of yellow boxes" has suddenly emerged, almost unchallenged, as the dominant player in the enterprise security space.

Undoubtedly the other security giants will point to the latest Gartner or IDC report on who offers the best antivirus solution or who happens to be strongest at the perimeter of the network. Symantec, however, through a number of swift acquisitions and a Buzz Lightyear approach to promotion, is attracting the attention of both business and the public sector with a mix of clever marketing and brand management.

It strikes me that Symantec and enterprise security are becoming increasingly synonymous and, unless the other players sit up and pay attention, the lucrative enterprise security and managed services space could find itself wrapped up inside a series of yellow box solutions.

Does that matter? I don't think so, because what this sector of the industry needs is more professionalism and tighter product integration. What remains to be seen is whether the likes of Symantec, which started in the security commodity space, can succeed and thrive in the same managed services space as companies such as Unisys and IBM.

What is your view?
Is your IT security facing a "points failure" due to incompatible point products? Tell us in an email >> CW360.com reserves the right to edit and publish answers on the Web site. Please state if your answer is not for publication.

Zentelligence Setting the world to rights with the collected thoughts and opinions of the futurist writer, broadcaster and Computer Weekly columnist Simon Moores.
This was last published in November 2002

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