SaaS, Not Shopping, is Focus of Symantec's New CEO

CIOs think of Symantec as a company that buys its way into new markets. Over the past decade the Cupertino, California, vendor has snatched up about 30 companies as it's evolved from an antivirus and tools seller to an aspiring enterprise infrastructure vendor.

By Robert McMillan
Thu, June 25, 2009

IDG News Service — CIOs think of Symantec as a company that buys its way into new markets. Over the past decade the Cupertino, California, vendor has snatched up about 30 companies as it's evolved from an antivirus and tools seller to an aspiring enterprise infrastructure vendor.

But longtime CEO John Thompson retired in April, handing over his job to Enrique Salem, who says he wants to run a more focused company that spends less energy on acquisitions and more on integrating existing products. And Salem sees software-as-a-service (SaaS) playing a much larger role in the next few years as the company builds on its US$700 million acquisition of Message Labs.

Salem first came to Symantec as the eighth software developer hired by Peter Norton 18 years ago. After leaving to pursue new ventures, he returned when Symantec bought his antispam company, Brightmail, in 2004. Symantec's president and CEO met with the IDG News Service recently to lay out his vision. Following is an edited version of the interview.

IDG News Service: You've said that software-as-a-service will make up 15 percent of Symantec's business in five years. What percentage is it now?

Enrique Salem: It's probably 5 or 6 percent.

IDGNS: How are you going to get there? What's the next thing that's going to roll into this Message Labs product line?

Salem: Improved archiving, so you don't have to archive everything locally. End-point management, end-point security, data loss prevention, there's a whole range of stuff.

IDGNS: How is it going to roll out?

Salem: Today we have messaging security, we have Web security, we're upgrading our archiving capabilities. We will add the end-point security, centrally managed, which I think is a big deal. What's important is that our customers are in a situation where they don't have to worry. They don't want to run it themselves. They'll say, "Symantec, you do it."

Think about this too. This is applicable not only to your traditional things. We deal with hospitals that are taking CAT [Computerized Axial Tomography] scans. These CAT scans are multilayered; they're gigabytes in size. They have patient records that need to be secured and managed. So why not do that as a service?

IDGNS: There are a number of reasons why people might not want to move into SaaS. What do you see as the biggest barrier?

Salem: Let me give you the categories and then I'll come back and talk about each of them: Security, availability -- is it going to be up and running -- and integration.

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