Missteps, Recoveries and Opportunities

By Lawrence Walsh  |  Print this article Print


Desktop-as-a-Service Designed for Any Cloud ? Nutanix Frame

Symantec and McAfee have dominated the antivirus marketplace for the last decade. But missteps by the big two have created opportunities for smaller vendors, such as Kaspersky Lab, Sophos and AVG, to make deep inroads into the one-time impenetrable market.

Symantec has suffered a litany of mistakes and meltdowns in recent years. Following its acquisition of Veritas for its storage management software, Symantec botched the implementation of an ERP platform that was intended to unify their security and storage offerings in one unified ordering system. Since taking on Veritas, partners and end users have complained that Big Yellow’s security software products—particularly client-based antivirus—have become increasingly ineffective in detecting and cleaning malware infections while taxing CPU performance.

Symantec has spent more than 18 months trying to recover from the ERP catastrophe—known internally as Project Oasis—and rebuilding confidence around its security products with Endpoint Security Version 11 for businesses and Norton 360 for consumers. The acquisition of Altiris gives Symantec a strong foothold in security configuration management capabilities. And it’s developing a strategy for data loss prevention through its acquisition of Vontu.

"I think you’ll see a nice rebound as we move into 2009. We’re already seeing a return of customers as well as net new customers," says Randy Cochran, Symantec’s vice president of channels for North America. "Antivirus is good, but that’s just the entry point. You have to have the 24/7 posture that Symantec has."

"Mistakes have been made along the way," Cochran adds. "But no one at Symantec wakes up in the morning and says we have to go out and take advantage of the channel."

It’s a position that Eugene Kaspersky gleefully disagrees with. While he was announcing more liberal payment terms to his partners, ChannelWeb reported that Symantec was using access to credit as a means of pressuring its partners to only sell Symantec security products.

"We’re not fighting with our competition; we’re fighting cyber-criminals," Kaspersky says. "The major goal is to win over cyber-criminals. The second goal is to win over our competitors with the big help of our friends [partners]. And our third goal is making money on all that."

Kaspersky isn’t the only vendor taking aim at Symantec. McAfee, though criticized by solution providers for having declining margins on its products and poor support, is continuing to attack Symantec in the enterprise and high end of the midmarket. McAfee as much as any other security vendor capitalized on Symantec’s recent woes and took customers and market share away.

Roger King, executive vice president of worldwide channels at McAfee, says the company’s recent addition of Secure Computing’s appliances—particularly its Secure Firewall, formerly known as the Sidewider G2—will make it a strong competitor against its primary targets: Symantec, Check Point and Websense. "We are going to be aggressive and disruptive," he says.

Lawrence Walsh Lawrence Walsh is editor of Baseline magazine, overseeing print and online editorial content and the strategic direction of the publication. He is also a regular columnist for Ziff Davis Enterprise's Channel Insider. Mr. Walsh is well versed in IT technology and issues, and he is an expert in IT security technologies and policies, managed services, business intelligence software and IT reseller channels. An award-winning journalist, Mr. Walsh has served as editor of CMP Technology's VARBusiness and GovernmentVAR magazines, and TechTarget's Information Security magazine. He has written hundreds of articles, analyses and commentaries on the development of reseller businesses, the IT marketplace and managed services, as well as information security policy, strategy and technology. Prior to his magazine career, Mr. Walsh was a newspaper editor and reporter, having held editorial positions at the Boston Globe, MetroWest Daily News, Brockton Enterprise and Community Newspaper Company.

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...