Symantec acquisition of Vontu could continue integrated security trend

Symantec's acquisition of Vontu gives Symantec and partners new data leak prevention solutions to sell, and Symantec's integrated security trend will make it easier for partners to expand their business.

Symantec's acquisition of data leak prevention (DLP) vendor Vontu this week will supply Symantec with new technologies to include in its integrated security platforms.

Last Monday Symantec signed an agreement to buy San Francisco-based Vontu for $350 million -- a deal execs expect to close in the fourth quarter of this fiscal year. Vontu makes network and endpoint monitoring and protection software, as well as the Vontu Enforce management and reporting platform. Symantec plans to integrate those technologies with its endpoint security, networking and storage products, according to a statement from Ken Schneider, chief technology officer for security and data management.

Vendor acquisitions always cause some concern among channel partners, but the benefits -- more products and services to sell, and simpler vendor relationships -- typically outweigh the problems, said Andrew Grose, president and CEO of Nortec Communications, a Symantec partner in Falls Church, Va.

"It's been an advantage," he said. "It's great for us, because we don't want to have 200 different partners."

In September, Symantec released Endpoint Protection 11.0, the latest version of what was called Symantec AntiVirus. It includes antivirus, firewall, network intrusion prevention and other features, and it integrates security technology from Symantec's acquisitions of Veritas (rootkit detection and removal) and Sygate (network access control).

Other Symantec acquisitions over the past two-plus years include Whole Security, BindView Development, IMlogic, Relicore, Company-i and Altiris. Last year, Symantec began selling Vontu technology as an add-on to its messaging security products, but only through its direct sales force. The full acquisition of Vontu should expand that opportunity and more to channel partners, said Charlotte Dunlap, an enterprise security analyst for Current Analysis.

"Channel partners should be drilling Symantec and asking them, 'What's the roadmap, when can we get our hands on it, and what role do we play?'" Dunlap said.

In his statement, Schneider said partners will have even more opportunities to provide value-added services as a result of Symantec's acquisition of Vontu.

"Data loss prevention is a consultative sale and depends a great deal on understanding business processes, information risks and the unique customer environment," he said.

Nortec does most of its Symantec work with its storage product, Enterprise Vault, Grose said. Vontu's DLP technology should help Enterprise Vault customers meet compliance regulations, and it could also help Nortec get into more security-oriented work, Grose said.

At September's Partner Engage conference in San Diego, Symantec CEO John Thompson acknowledged that some of Symantec's acquisitions have caused disruption in the channel. He told partners he didn't envision "some big transformational transaction" in the next 12 months, but he also said he wouldn't rule out anything "that enhances our standing in the marketplace."

As Symantec continues to acquire other vendors and integrate their technology into its own products, it does take away some of the value-added integration and customization work that is so profitable for solution providers. But it also makes the products cheaper and easier for customers to use, which provides new opportunities for channel partners to expand their businesses, Grose said.

"That's just an evolution of the industry," he added.

Symantec's acquisition of Vontu won't immediately threaten partners, Dunlap said. Until the two vendors' products are integrated, customers will still have to use two different management consoles and rely on solution providers to make sure they work together. Even later on, partners will still have opportunities to set DLP policies and configure the products for customers, Dunlap said.

"It doesn't matter how easy it gets," Grose said. "There's going to be a demand for the services we do."

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