Symantec Readying Integrated Product Road Maps, Sticking To Plan, Says CEO

In a wide-ranging discussion with Gartner analysts at the 2013 Gartner Security and Risk Management Summit, Bennett said the company will focus on organic growth as it better integrates its product portfolio into 10 areas. He insisted that Symantec will stick to its strategy of staying out of the network security appliance market, but added that the company was seeking partnerships with several networking vendors. The company will focus on helping customers integrate their security technologies, Bennett said.

"Realigning to solve customer problems is more important to us than providing six new shiny objects to solve them," Bennett said. "We started with 300 different ideas on our teams and we got them down to 10 ideas; 10 new offerings where we will do the integration versus having our customers doing it."

[Related: 10 Questions For Symantec CEO Steve Bennett ]

The Mountain View Calif.-based security vendor announced a two-year strategic plan in January that included layoffs of middle management executives. Symantec 4.0, named for entering its fourth decade in the security industry, includes mobility, Norton protection, Norton cloud, information security services, identity and content security gateway, and data center. The company's storage and backup business was also part of the strategy. Channel partners told CRN the company was retooling its Altiris IT management platform to be the central console that would help integrate its various products.

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Bennett admitted that the company has relied on a strategy of acquiring market leaders. The company bought Sygate Technologies for endpoint compliance, Vontu for data leakage protection, and PGP Corp. and GuardianEdge for encryption. It spent $1.2 billion on VeriSign's authentication business as well as a host of other security firms, which remained predominantly separate parts of the overall portfolio.

Bennett said the company needs to integrate better with a stronger technology partner ecosystem, taking advantage of next-generation firewall capabilities for discovery and remediation. Partnering with companies such as FireEye that conduct analysis on malware in a virtual sandbox in near-realtime and then share the results in a crowdsourced style protection could help boost customer threat detection, he said.

"We never asked our engineers to innovate; we never did," Bennett said. "At end of day, we have great engineers but never had multi-generation road maps."

The longest product road map the company has had was through two quarters, Bennet said. "You can't solve customer problems on a 90-day cycle," he said, adding that the company announced that it would boost its investment in research and development activities past 17 percent of the company's revenue.

The company also will build on its mobile security strategy, Bennett said. It acquired Odyssey Software mobile device management capabilities and Nukona for application wrapping and control. Gartner analysts said on Monday that the MDM market was being commoditized and would be transformed into a market focused on mobile application control and management capabilities. They point to Nukona as one of several emerging vendors, including San Francisco-based Mocana, that let companies apply policies to a set of business mobile apps.

"We bought these companies less than a year ago and we already have an integrated offering," Bennett said. "Today you have the choice to integrate the point solutions in the market or you can buy from us a platform that functions as a suite."

Symantec is also bolstering support, Bennett said, in response to multiple questions Gartner received from attendees about service and support complaints. The company is investing in more resources, hiring more than a dozen "process leaders" as it reengineers its entire support system, he said.