A Rare Bloom

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As the CEO of Veritas Software, Gary Bloom has aspired to be the CEO of his own sprawling, multibillion empire. So when Bloom agreed to merge Veritas with Symantec, he did something that seems to be increasingly rare in the industry: He set aside his own ambitions for the potential financial good of the shareholders and employees of Veritas and Symantec.

Now given the way that Wall Street has greeted this merger and the amount of time it will take to realize any of the potential benefits, many people are starting to question the real value of this deal. But to his credit, Bloom remains adamant that the deal will result in company that will have the necessary heft and weight to be a dominant player in the rapidly changing world of corporate computing.

What's driving these changes is the need to have products that not only secure IT assets and bring the company's information policies in line with compliance regulations, but also automate the process associated with achieving those goals. Already, we hear business executives decrying the costs associated with compliance regulations such as Sarbanes-Oxley, and senior IT executives are increasingly concerned about the percentage of their IT spending that will be allocated to security. While security is a necessary requirement, it does nothing to shore up the bottom line or increase productivity. And senior IT executives all know that anything that increases the perception of IT as a cost center is not good for them or the rest of the industry.

What makes Bloom different is that he was able to look past his ego to see the potential opportunity that a combined entity focused on securing and storing data could have. The idea that security would become so pervasive that it would be embedded as a feature in just about every product we use is a well-known eventuality. What Bloom and Symantec CEO John Thompson have done is taken that eventuality and moved to accelerate it. That means, for example, that rather than trying to reinvent each company's technology, the combined entity could more easily work together on things like virus alerts that automatically trigger backup operations.

But it goes beyond well beyond that. The combined entity aspires to be a major force in the emerging world of virtualization, where Veritas has already made a number of strategic acquisitions. In addition, Bloom publicly acknowledges that the combined entity will build, buy or partner with someone to gain access to server virtualization software to counter EMC's acquisition of VMware. And that would be just the beginning for a combined entity that has ambitions to play a major role in all aspects of IT policy management across application, storage, systems, network, security and identity management.

Within Veritas, they refer to Bloom as "the iceman" because he rarely lets his emotions get the better of him. For Bloom, who worships at the altar of reason, the Symantec deal was a pretty straightforward opportunity to create something significant when Symantec's Thompson suggested merging the two companies.

But unlike most CEOs on the junior partner side of a merger, don't expect Bloom to ride off into the sunset once the deal is done. Underneath all the ice is a man with a burning ambition to build a company in concert with Thompson that will stand the test of time, alongside other industry giants such as Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Cisco Systems and even IBM.

And as the affable Thompson and the relentless Bloom move forward in the coming years, don't be surprised if these two single-handedly rewrite the rules of competition in this industry, because when all is said and done, that's the end game for this merger.

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