Symantec CEO outlines personal protection vision

Enrique SalemLAS VEGAS – Can security and data protection be made a personal thing? Symantec CEO Enrique Salem thinks so.

Speaking at the company’s Partner Engage 2010 conference at the MGM Grand here, Salem outlined the company’s new vision of protection, both in terms of data protection and threat protection, for identities, for devices and for information.

“A shift is required” in how IT approaches the enterprise, Salem told approximately 400 partners at the event, to a scenario that “revolves around people and information with IT in the middle, bringing that environment together.”

Salem’s argument centers around what he called the “megatrend” of consumerization in the IT sphere, something that has not only gained acceptance but acceleration because of the proliferation of Android and iOS devices in the enterprise, the majority of which have come through as personal devices and not as IT-assigned products.

“We get caught up in point products, but this is about saying ‘how does information need to flow?’” Salem said, adding that the device it’s flowing to becomes irrelevant if you make the conversation about the “people trying to use those devices, and trying to use that information.”

Salem said there are five key enablers to the vision:

  • Identity security
  • Device security
  • Information protection (the company’s legacy and core business on both the security and data protection sides)
  • Context and relevance
  • Cloud enablement.

That includes an increasing focus on user authentication and data lifecycle protection, providing some clues for recent Symantec acquisitions.

The first three pieces are fairly self-explanatory, but Salem provided additional colour on the latter two.

Context and relevance is about organizing the growing amount of data and organization creates and has to manage “in a useful manner” – identifying what is of value and what has to be kept and for how long it needs to be kept, as well as how quickly it needs to be accessible through its lifetime.

On the cloud side, Salem said it’s about delivering services and building out infrastructure in a “more cost-effective, scalable and easy to manage fashion.”

Salem’s views on hardware were likely to make any hardware or infrastructure-heavy reseller cringe. The chief executive said the company’s goal is “to commoditize the hardware infrastructure, drive all the cost out it” by putting the intelligence in the software.

He puts forth an alternate view to partner opportunity, moving away from point products and towards building out more complete solutions that include shared storage, security, encryption and authentication – in short, it’s a cross-selling play.

“Think about combining products together into a solution that delivers against this vision,” he said.

Salem joked that as a Silicon Valley executive, he was forced to make a cloud-centric pitch because “we all drink the same water out there,” but noted that it is an increasing trend, particularly in the midmarket and below where the idea of outsourcing that which is not core competency is increasingly attractive. More and more of the company’s products, he said, wlll become available in a hosted fashion, with a thin agent on location and a Web management console for the solution provider. He said it’s a message that’s resonating regardless of organization size.

“Whether it’s a big customer or a little customer, they’re looking for ease of installation and a much more service-oriented approach,” Salem said.