IBM Division To Meld Analytics, Security

Brendan Hannigan, former chief executive of Waltham, Mass.-based security firm Q1 Labs, took the helm of IBM’s new Security Systems Division Wednesday, the same day IBM completed the acquisition of Q1. IBM announced plans to acquire the company three weeks ago.

The move was a clear indication that IBM intended to meld analytics with security. Q1’s flagship suite, QRadar, analyzes events in routers, switches, applications, databases, VPNs, firewalls and appliances. Abnormalities are flagged to IT managers via a management console.

Such a high level of monitoring has become a must have in large businesses, because of the growing sophistication of criminals trying to hack into networks, Hannigan said. “It has become so important for customers, because of the changing nature of the threats they are facing.”

What’s changed is how intruders can disguise network breaches, so they are difficult to detect without an all-encompassing approach to security monitoring, Hannigan argues. For example, data gathered from a switch or router, a database and a VPN concentrator may be needed to catch a highly competent hacker. Analytics connects the dots that eventually point to the intrusion, he says.

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Hannigan plans to direct future security work at IBM toward helping companies lockdown hybrid cloud environments, a mixture of cloud services with behind-the-firewall networks and applications. Such blending of the Web with corporate networks is driving business innovation, while also giving hackers more options for breaking into data centers. In a nod to the complexity of such environments, which typically include technology from different vendors, Hannigan reiterated IBM’s “strong commitment to integration with all security products, no matter what vendor they come from.”

Hannigan also says he won’t forget the importance of the channel in getting IBM security products to market. “At Q1 Labs I was very committed to working with channel partners and that will continue,” he says.

The security division is responsible for IBM’s Tivoli, Rational and Information Management security software, appliances and services. Q1 was the latest of more than 10 security acquisitions by IBM over the last 10 years. The company has also made more than two dozen analytics-related purchases.

Hannigan joined Q1 in 2003 as vice president of marketing, jumping from Newton, Mass.-based Sockeye Networks, a provider of business data, such as sales tax by zip code and a database of e-commerce products and services. Hannigan was vice president of marketing and technology at Sockeye.