Symantec Pledges $1bn For Acquisition Spree


CEO Enrique Salem has revealed an aggressive M&A strategy plus cloud security products

Symantec’s CEO Enrique Salem claims that the company will become number one in the security market, and has singled out cloud security as a growth area.

But it is unlikely that products alone will help Symantec reach its goal. The company, known for its aggressive mergers and acquisitions (M&A) policy, will be on a shopping spree this year. Salem told journalists at the company’s Vision user conference in Barcelona that $1.25 billion (£810m) has been set aside for M&A deals.

Off And Running

The last year’s purchase of Clearwell for $390 million (£253m) was the starting gun for Symantec’s race to the top. Obviously, Salem would not single out any acquisition targets but said that the company was looking at the mobile security, virtualisation and the cloud market for growing its portfolio.

Last year, Symantec also bought Verisign’s security business and Salem said that this had been successful in enlarging the company’s customer base. Partnerships with cloud companies Amazon, Salesforce and eBay has also opened new doors.

Salem also implied a thank you to Intel for acquiring McAfee last year. “It’s almost the best thing that could have happened,” he said.

The deal strengthened Symantecs’s position by “defocusing” McAfee and the subsequent departure of the company’s CEO, CTO and its director of security strategy (now a member of Symantec’s team). Salem sees the Intel/Symantec partnership continuing for the “foreseeable future”, with Intel adopting products such as Symantec’s PGP Whole Disk Encryption in its anti-theft initiative.

O3 Cloud Security Unveiled

At the conference, Symantec announced its foray into securing enterprise cloud applications and infrastructures: O3. This combines access control, information protection and compliance control in a single product for public and private clouds.

Though adoption of software as a service (SaaS) clouds are seen as a way to gain significant cost and complexity reductions, security concerns still represent a significant barrier. According to a Symantec study, 44 percent of CEOs asked said moving business-critical applications to the cloud was a worry, with 76 percent citing security as a main concern.

Symantec hopes to bridge this gulf with O3’s security control point that applies consistent identity and information security across all cloud services.

As the name implies, O3 has three security layers. The cloud access control layer employs an existing identity authentication process but adds further authorisation and federation services. The information security layer builds on this by applying data loss prevention (DLP) and “pretty good privacy” (PGP) encryption technologies to automatically detect, block and encrypt confidential information before it goes for cloud storage.

Symantec O3’s visibility layer aggregates cloud-related security events to provide the basis for an audit path.

Art Gilliland, senior vice president for Symantec’s Information Security Group, said, “As organisations work to embrace cloud delivered services, they struggle to balance the potential upside benefits against the many challenges created as their sensitive information flows between an increasing number of solution providers, over networks, through organisations and down to devices outside of their infrastructure. Symantec O3 will provide the visibility, control and protection they need to confidently embrace cloud computing.”

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