Symantec’s acquisition of Blue Coat Systems is now taking a definite shape. The two security giants have accelerated their integration of teams, portfolio and GTM after the acquisition was completed three months ago.
CSO India caught up with Brian Kenyon, senior VP and chief strategy officer, Symantec for his detailed insights on the road ahead for new Symantec. “Most acquisitions fail due to myopic window during the integration. The teams of Symantec and Blue Coat are increasingly pursuing ‘customer first’ practice that offers great value add for the end organizations,” he says.
Excerpts from interview
What have been big highlights in Symantec’s overall strategy (post acquisition of Blue Coat Systems) as we step into 2017?
It’s been little over 100 days since the completion of Blue Coat’s acquisition by Symantec. It’s been rough and tough phase with the engineering side proving to be amazing in the terms of integration first completing capabilities on threat intelligence side. Now we have moved to product level integration between portfolios of Symantec and Blue Coat. That’s the effort to combine the two traditional organisations.
But the underlying theme across Symantec is to have a strategy around integration and capabilities in the long term. It is not only integration of management consoles, UIs but bringing these disparate tech areas and weaving them to enhance the security outcomes for our customers. We are enhancing various security components of portfolio like DLP, authentication and augment that with other Symantec capabilities either from traditional Blue Coat portfolio or inherent Symantec portfolio and tie them together.
Did you force-fit the tech jargons like big data, cloud into the new strategy to stay relevant to end organizations?
We are rallying behind the concept of integrated cyber defence that will cross everything from cloud to traditional DC to private cloud to IoT. It will cross lot of things. The big push we have is thinking ‘cloud first’. How do we both enable our solutions and also take the solutions to the cloud to protect customers.
We have established a separate discipline under Rehan Jalil who was CEO of Elastica. And he owns our cloud organizations and that’s across business unit visibility, He is looking at each of the product discipline and looking at it with the lens of cloud.
It will be step by step process as there are certain technologies that don’t make sense to be cloudified. For example, Blue Coat has a security analytics product - a full packet capture that sits on network and captures every packet across the wire used for forensic and response after a breach or after an event. That traditional on- prem type of technology can have cloud version.
What challenges did you encounter during the integration process as both companies are quite diverse in terms of customer segment, product portfolio and GTM?
There are always challenges in integration of companies. But there are more opportunities as well. Blue Coat has not focused on mid-market and SMBs for number of reasons as the company was focused on enterprise segment. They had to build channels and salesforce for the mid-market and SMBs with a specific messaging and relevant solutions for that segment.
Blue Coat made a big step forward with release of advanced security gateway based of our proxy technology. It basically collapses multiple platforms into single alliance to the small end of the market. We did not have the reach and partner programs. Symantec provides us that leverage to accelerate that route.
Many tech giants jumped the security bandwagon and later exited -- Dell selling SonicWALL, Intel spinning off McAfee, HP exiting Tipping Point -- as few examples. Is security a tough space to survive?
Security requires a very concentrated focus as it traverses beyond addressing your market and customer challenges. Security has an important third dimension of answering your attacker unlike other IT solutions like ERP or CRM. You always have to be at parity or one step ahead of the attacker.
When non- security focused companies make acquisition into this space, it requires a cultural change for effective security business. And some such companies have or are exiting that space. Security requires security knowledge and domain expertise at the leadership level.
An abstract view of security companies and the top level management hailing from security background, there is direct correlation to the effectiveness and capabilities of those companies to survive on long term basis.
Does the new strategy of the combined entity weigh heavy on business outcome versus technology advantage for CSOs and their companies?
Many of us are firm believers of ROI and TCO .The more Symantec is part of customer infra the more capabilities I have to service them and find economies of scale to equip them long term. We look at both sides. We look at tech and product integration that changes security capabilities and also lowers customer spend and also cost of ownership of the solution. It is rather futile that a customer likes an integrated product but cannot afford it.
Tech integrations that we do will lend themselves to one side of that titter totter if you will. Some will be more about saving the customers money and make them more operational efficient and some about technology inflicting better outcomes for security operations. At times we get lucky and both aspects happen.
Most CSOs are often clueless of the real impact of the breach on their company.
It is much better than say three to five years ago. Modern CISO have to be business strategist than a mere security technologist. Not only when breach happens but the possible impact of security tool causing outrage or a false positive on business operations. We have seen CISO jobs globally now run by business executives who run PL, GMs of large businesses. They don’t necessarily should have security background but they have the management expertise on how to run and operate business.
The next big evolution for CISOS would be assigning the right amount of security is for each BU or LOB of the company. Not too much or not too little. And that can be estimated only if they get involved earlier in LOB projects, talk often to business stakeholders and have a holistic bird’s view of company’s IT infra.
Your suggestions for modern CSOs to fool-proof their security posture.
The security world hinges on three aspects of security world - riches, ruins and regulations. From CISO perspective, you have to understand - How can attacker get rich of you? How can attacker ruin you? What regulations you abide by to continue the business appropriately? If you can’t answer any of those three questions then there is a gap - big or small – in the security posture depending on your vertical and how you interact with the customers.
Once CISOs start embracing cloud either as cost reduction or a business need, sometime they do lose sight of visibility with respect to data flow, access controls etcetera. The east west side traffic inside the environment becomes north south that alters key issues like bandwidth allocation and availability. My advice for CSOs globally is that they should not never ever sacrifice network visibility.
The industry has dramatically moved from the prevention model few year ago to detection model. And detection is completely dependent of that visibility layer that helps CISOs to understand the state of environment and data attack surface well enough to stay secure.
We are rallying strongly behind the concept of integrated cyber defence that will cross everything in a security conundrum from cloud to traditional DC to IoT to name a few.
Brian Kenyon's MA trends for 2017 and beyond
Security is a challenging space that requires domain expertise, great portfolio and powerful leadership for technology companies to thrive in the competitive world says Brian Kenyon. He lists MA trends for 2017 and beyond:
*Expect lot of consolidation over the next couple of years from PE firms and tech giants.
*Some VC funding slowing down because many are heavily leveraged into security players.
*Big players to pick small VC backed companies and bring them under their bigger portfolio.
*Non-security vendors acquiring security companies need cultural change to succeed.