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Symantec CEO Takes Aim At Cylance, Other Next-Gen Security Vendors As Blue Coat Integration Gets Under Way

Symantec CEO Greg Clark didn't mince words when it came to the company's competition, in particular Cylance, at the security vendor's Partner Engage event Wednesday.

Symantec is charging back into the market after its acquisition of Blue Coat Systems earlier this year, CEO Greg Clark said, and he didn’t mince words about what that means for the security vendor’s competition.

Clark said Symantec already has set up the company’s ’war rooms’ when it comes to the competition, detailing where they are ahead and how it plans to change that. It will be a similar approach to the one Clark drove at Blue Coat, where he was CEO from 2011 until Symantec acquired the company.

’If you look at what happened to Blue Coat in the web gateway market, we basically put the lights out on everyone in that sector because of that kind of focus and connection to market,’ Clark said. ’We intend to deliver a similar situation as we integrate Blue Coat and Symantec and get going,’ he said.

[Related: Q&A: New Symantec CEO On Blue Coat Acquisition, Partner Impact And What's Next In Security Vendor Turnaround]

Clark, who spoke Wednesday in front of an audience of partners at the company’s Partner Engage event in Los Angeles, took particular aim at next-generation endpoint security startup Cylance. He said Symantec’s upcoming version 14 of its Symantec Endpoint Protection platform scored higher in tests than Cylance on detection, with 99.5 percent effectiveness, compared with Cylance’s 96.3 percent. He said tests also showed Cylance’s rate of false positives was 150 times higher than that of Symantec Endpoint Protection 14. Clark said he has already seen one large bank client rip out Cylance and put in Symantec Endpoint Protection 14, as well as another large company.

’Cylance and some of the others have got some better marketing at the moment. We are working to change that. You will see a sea change in our market,’ Clark said. ’We are feeling good about our ability to win.’

In an email to CRN, Cylance CEO Stuart McClure maintained that the company’s technology is competitive against Symantec and other next-generation endpoint security offerings.

’Clearly, we are materially impacting Symantec’s business. And thousands of discriminating Cylance customers prove we are far more than marketing. But don’t believe us, just test for yourself.’

Clark also took shots at other next-generation endpoint security companies, specifically Carbon Black and Tanium, who he said were ’trendy’ and only provide a part of the endpoint security story. Clark said Symantec is also confident it can beat out email security competitor Proofpoint, saying there ’will never be an email test against that we don’t crush … from an effectiveness point of view.’

Coming out strong against the competition is a new rhetoric for Mountain View, Calif.-based Symantec, one that is welcomed by partners. Jason Eberhardt, vice president of strategic alliances at Chicago-based Conventus, said it’s important for Symantec to speak up and help educate customers on how its offerings compete head-to-head against some of the next-generation offerings in the market.

’You have to speak up. … When you get pushed enough and people keep saying their technology is better you have to come out with the facts,’ Eberhardt said. He said he looks forward to Symantec putting its own marketing muscle behind the messaging to get the word out about its competitive technology, particularly Symantec Endpoint Protection 14.


What will set Symantec apart, Clark said, is ’the most complete architecture and product portfolio,’ the result of its $4.65 billion acquisition of Blue Coat, which closed Aug. 1. The acquisition created a single security vendor with around $4.2 billion in revenue for this year, the majority of which comes from enterprise security, and a portfolio that includes endpoint, email, data loss prevention, data center, cloud security and secure web gateway solutions. That broad portfolio will be Symantec’s key to success, Clark said.

’We will mow down our competitors here. We plan to win it on each of the individual pieces, and we think we are the first really truly integrated cyberdefense platform,’ Clark said.

The integration of the two company portfolios is well under way, Clark said, citing an example where the combined technologies and threat intelligence of Symantec and Blue Coat were able to spot suspicious traffic, recognize similar incidents at multiple companies, discover the attacks took sensitive documents, then pinpoint the source as a spearphishing attack.

’This is real customer value that we’re delivering. This is way far ahead of what you’ll see from Cylance or other so-called next-generation detection people,’ Clark said.

Partners will also be a key part of that strategy, said Clark and Global Vice President of Partner and Channel Sales John Thompson. Thompson said the combined company will drive about 90 percent of its business through partners. As a combined company, Thompson said Symantec will focus in the near term on engaging early and often with partners, taking advantage of investments in partner programs, driving commercial SMB and midmarket opportunities, driving cross-sell and upsell opportunities across portfolios, and investing in tools such as marketing to accelerate growth.

Partners can expect to see a combined partner program around April of next year, Thompson said, until which time the programs and dedicated sales teams will operate independently. In the meantime, he said select top-tier partners can be fast-tracked into the other’s partner program levels to receive incentives. The key, Clark said, is continuing to invest in partners and making sure those partners are ready to reciprocate the investment with the ’new Symantec.’

’We are a very partner-friendly management team. We can’t do it without you. We are investing and we will seriously reward our partners who invest in our product line and our vision,’ Clark said.

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