Symantec Partially Withdraws From Managed Services Business

Symantec is shedding parts of its managed security services business, eliminating key personnel as it shutters its managed firewall and managed endpoint services.

The move, which began following the departure of key personnel over the summer, was prompted by a business analysis of its managed services, the company told CRN this week.

"Symantec's strategy is focused on ensuring we invest in targeted, high growth opportunities while deemphasizing other areas," the company said in a statement. "Existing customers will still be able to use the retired services until the end of their annual service period as we and our partners help them navigate the transition."

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Symantec has been conducting event and log collection, analytics, and reporting for security devices, combining the data with its DeepSight threat intelligence information for its MSP customers. The company maintains security operations centers in at least five countries. The company said it retains its managed intrusion detection and prevention services.

"We continue to listen to our customers as we develop the high value services they need and plan to keep managed security services as a key component of Symantec's Information Security portfolio moving forward," the company said.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based company laid off hundreds of employees over the summer as part of a turnaround effort, which includes an overhaul of its product line and go-to-market strategy.

The executive shakeup included the departure of key executives running its managed security services program. Brian Dunphy, senior director of managed security services product management, departed to RSA in August. Also leaving for RSA was Grant Geyer, vice president of managed security services. Wias Issa, Symantec's senior manager of managed security services, left the company in July and now heads the response team operations at Mandiant. And Scott McGrady, who served as managing director of managed security services in the Asia-Pacific region, now heads strategic alliances at security appliance maker FireEye.

The company said it is making changes to streamline and better integrate its product portfolio. Earlier this month, Symantec named Amit Mital, a former Microsoft executive, as its new chief technology officer. Mital replaces Steve Trilling, who is moving to another senior leadership role, the company said.

Shedding the managed firewall business could cause some disruption among customers who want a complete turnkey management service from a single provider, said Kelly Kavanagh, principal research analyst at Gartner.

NEXT: Effects On Symantec, Customers And Competitive Landscape

Symantec's value proposition is in providing threat intelligence based on analyzing data, not providing patches and rule sets for security devices, Gartner's Kavanagh told CRN.

"Certainly a midsize or smaller business will be looking for management services to handle all the infrastructure, and that's where Symantec will be at a competitive disadvantage moving forward," Kavanagh said.

Other top-tier providers include Dell SecureWorks, Verizon, IBM, AT&T and Solutionary, according to Gartner.

J.J. Thompson, managing director and CEO of Rook Security, an Indianapolis-based security systems integrator, said he has fielded a call from a Symantec customer that has a service-level agreement commitment with its clients. A disruption would be costly, Thompson said.

"Affected Symantec customers will suffer because they now have to decide to find another MSS or to insource," Thompson said. "If they insource, it's hard to find talented professionals to manage firewalls without introducing unnecessary risk. If they stick with outsourcing, let's hope their contract term fits with their budgeting process."

Executives at other solution providers said the move was likely a way to eliminate costly parts of the business. Firewall management is a low-margin business, said Arthur Hedge, CEO of Castle Ventures, a network security monitoring and log analysis firm that focuses on HP-ArcSight security information event management appliances. Remote management of endpoint protection, which includes diagnosing and cleaning infected PCs, is also a challenge, Hedge said.

"This is all probably for business reasons rather than technical reasons," Hedge said. "The endpoint piece is a good problem to solve for local solution providers because they have feet on the ground to deal with customers at the endpoint."