Microsoft readies security go-to-market

In addition to its focus on cloud, mobile, social and big data, Microsoft COO Kevin Turner says the company will put more attention on security.

Microsoft COO Kevin Turner outlines the company's security strategy at WPC 14

Microsoft COO Kevin Turner outlines the company’s security strategy at WPC 14

WASHINGTON, DC – Anyone who’s heard from Microsoft over the last two years knows about its four big focus areas, areas that any Microsoft employee will gladly share with you – cloud, mobile, social, and big data. But at its Worldwide Partner Conference here, company COO Kevin Turner suggested that for its new fiscal year 2015, there will be a fifth big pillar of focus for Microsoft – security.

“This is something we’ve never talked about from a go-to-market perspective. We have security in various parts across the company, and now we’re putting it together into a go-to-market, one that you can participate in,” Turner told partners assembled for WPC.

Turner described a Microsoft-wide security strategy that starts with a base of security features and functionality included in various Microsoft products, including Defender and Trusted Platform Module, elements that Microsoft will continue to develop, but that are by no means the whole of the strategy in and of themselves. On top of that, Turner describes a set of value-added offerings that help ensure security – BitLocker for system encryption, rights management, and Active Directory services amongst them.

“This is a cross-sell and up-sell opportunity for all of us in here,” Turner said.

But at the very top of Turner’s security pyramid sits perhaps the most interesting – and furthest afield for Microsoft today – offering, security services including security assessment, threat detection and response services, offered both by Microsoft itself and by its partner base.

“This is where we help you navigate and secure your systems using services. This is a great opportunity for partners, and we are going to be a leader in data protection, privacy, and security,” Turner told attendees.

Security, Turner said, has become even more high profile and has become “a CEO-level discussion” in light of the continuing spree of high-profile security breaches, including ones like the massive break-in at Target late last year that ultimately culminated in the company’s CEO being sacked.

“We believe this is a huge business opportunity – a $67 billion business opportunity just this year,” Turner told partners. “We’ve got a chance to really lean into it and get our share of what’s happening in security.”

Security is an interesting space for Microsoft – long ago perceived as the company’s biggest weakness in its desktop days, it has rehabilitated its image to a good extent, but it’s also a space where Microsoft runs into “co-opetition” situations with many of the third-party companies that build security functionality on top of Windows. Of course, such co-opetition is not something Microsoft shies away from, and it finds happening at an increasing rate as former rivals become allies on some fronts (with Office debuting on iOS and Android, for example) and former allies become rivals on other fronts (PC and phone vendors rankled by the emergence of Surface and Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia.) Turner said Microsoft’s increased footprint, as it looks to go from its 90 per cent share of the PC market to its estimated 14 per cent of the overall worldwide device market, is going to have the effect of creating “interesting situations” with partners and competitors and blurring lines between the two.