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Enrique Salem: Mobility, Cloud Ushering In A Changing Of The Guard

The former Symantec CEO tells CRN that changes on the client side and a massive disruption in the data center means big security firms better change with the times.

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Enrique Salem

Large security vendors with massive portfolios are struggling to keep pace with the rapid changes taking place at the endpoint and in the data center, according to former Symantec CEO Enrique Salem, who is maintaining strong ties in the security community and betting heavily on networking security and cloud analytics.

Salem, who sits on the boards of networking security vendors FireEye and Forescout and cloud analytics and security firm Netskope, said a variety of agile startups are in position to address the issues faced by enterprises dealing with mobility issues at the endpoint, a rapid adoption of cloud-based services and a transition of the data center to cloud hosting resources.

"There's an opportunity for almost a changing of the guard of the next-generation security companies, and that is where I'm trying to spend my time," Salem told CRN. "We are in the biggest transition away from the large-cap tech companies, which are the last-generation tech companies. … In that shift from the client to consumerization and disruption of the data center, IT will need new tools to have the visibility and control that they had in the previous architecture."

[Related: Symantec: New Named Accounts For Top Partners, Incentives For Smaller VARs ]

Salem admits that hindsight is 20/20. While he was at the helm of Symantec, he said, the company wasn't in position to quickly develop and go to market with technologies that address mobility and cloud security. Under Salem, Symantec unveiled O3, a cloud identity and access control platform for the cloud and Web applications and services. Symantec added data loss prevention and encryption capabilities to the platform but has yet to see significant adoption, a task made even more difficult since startups have come to market with similar capabilities in a cloud gateway.

At the time, Symantec couldn't justify adding new cloud analytics that would only generate $10 million a year, Salem said. The goal was to figure out how to generate between $350 million and $700 million of incremental business, Salem said. That is the big, ongoing issue for Symantec and other large-cap tech companies that aren’t nimble enough to tackle disruptive technologies.

"I can emphasize with their problem. It's not that they are bad companies, they just have a scale problem and that creates opportunity," Salem said. "The companies ultimately know that there are things that they have to acquire."

NEXT: Channel Remains Important Growth Vehicle For Vendors, Says Salem


Salem served as Symantec’s COO from January 2008 to April 2009, when he was appointed to replace Symantec CEO John Thompson , who retired after 10 years at the helm of the company. Salem was responsible for the company’s day-to-day operations, global product development, sales and marketing while working under Thompson. His other roles at Symantec included senior vice president of the security products and solutions group, group president of the consumer business unit and group president of worldwide sales and marketing.

Steve Bennett replaced Salem as president and CEO in July 2012, and Bennett is now overseeing a massive internal overhaul, which includes a streamlining of the product portfolio, layoffs of redundant positions and a revamped channel strategy. The company is continuing to integrate its portfolio to address cloud and mobility issues.

For Salem, whose roots are at the endpoint, the shift to networking security and the cloud is a big change. There always will be a place for endpoint security, he said, but it will be limited as tablet and smartphone use combined with adoption of cloud-based services has shifted the focus. Networking security companies, however, understand the endpoint is still an important space, as evidenced by. FireEye acquiring Mandiant for $1 billion to add remediation and forensics across the network and on devices, Salem said.

"There will be fine companies built around the endpoint because you still need to manage, protect and remediate the endpoint and the devices there, but look at the dollars spent and the growth there will be limited," Salem said.

Salem was appointed to the board of directors of Netskope in October and said the cloud analytics company is in a growing market, as new technologies are giving enterprises increased visibility into cloud-based services. Netskope began with analytics to drill down into application usage, has built out data loss prevention and policy enforcement and will add other threat detection technologies. Netskope joins a crowded market for cloud security brokers, one that includes SkyHigh Networks, CipherCloud, and startups Adallom and Skyfence.

Many of these vendors, including Netskope, are relying on the channel as a growth engine. Netskope recently added a channel manager, has partnered with FishNet Security and other regional solution providers, and is building out support for partners, Salem said.

"Clearly, the channel is important and I would tell you that cloud-based companies that really embrace and understand the channel will have staying power," Salem said.

PUBLISHED JAN. 28, 2014

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