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Inside Symantec’s bid to build the Amazon of cyber security tools

Inside Symantec’s bid to build the Amazon of cyber security tools

Symantec CIO orchestrates major shift toward one-stop cloud subscription services following recent Blue Coat and LifeLock acquisitions.

If Sheila Jordan and the rest of Symantec's senior leadership team complete their vision they will transform the company into the Amazon.com of cyber security, essentially a one-stop shop where CIOs and consumers alike can buy digital tools to protect their data assets.

The Symantec CIO is deploying her IT department's resources to help build out a software subscription platform for SaaS applications, part of a broader strategy to deliver solutions that are more in line with the evolving purchasing preferences of CIOs and CISOs.

"We want it to be like an Amazon experience where with a handful of clicks you can book your cloud security subscription," Jordan told CIO.com.

The idea isn't so far-fetched. Although CIOs have been implementing third-party cyber security tools on-premises for decades, the trend has increasingly skewed toward SaaS.

Spending on global cloud security solutions is expected to top US$3.4 billion by 2021, a compound annual growth rate of 28 per cent over the next five years, according to new data from Forrester Research.

The commercial move marks a surprising turn for Jordan, whom Symantec lured away from Cisco in 2014 to help insource the software maker's IT systems.

Then Symantec, sensing seismic shifts in cyber security, began a radical overhaul of its business. It sold off Veritas to Carlyle Group for US$8 billion and purchased Internet gateway security company Blue Coat Systems in August 2016 and identity theft protection firm LifeLock earlier this year.

From best-of-breed to integrated platform

Jordan, who built her reputation as a change agent in IT roles at Cisco Systems and Walt Disney World, went from divesting one large business to integrating two large organisations, working with the business to tuck Blue Coat into Symantec's enterprise security unit and LifeLock into the company's consumer product group.

Symantec remains the top security software vendor, generating roughly US$3.4 billion in sales last year, according to a recent Gartner report.

To maintain and boost its lead over Intel, IBM and others Symantec needs to update its portfolio to offer cloud services and machine learning software to anticipate threats.

Symantec's senior leadership believes offering CIOs a unified defence platform to blanket the corporate network is the best play.

Cyber security vendors have traditionally sold point solutions to enterprises, confusing CIOs with a fragmented, best-of-breed approach to their markets.

This strategy leaves gaps in corporate networks, Jordan said, adding that an integrated platform protecting corporate IT from the Internet gateway out to endpoint devices is a safer play for CIOs and their CISOs.

"When you have an integrated platform approach you're eliminating the white spaces and the opportunity for bad guys to come in and hang out for awhile," Jordan added.

In pursuit of its singular platform, Symantec is streamlining its market strategy, reducing the number of SKUs to simplify pricing, creating consistent channel contracts and consolidating the salesforce.


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