20 Scenes From Symantec Vision 2011

Symantec Vision 2011

Welcome to Symantec Vision 2011. For four days, developers, customers and channel partners from all over the world gathered at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas May 2-5 to hear Symantec executives share the company's long term, and short term "vision" -- its growth and product strategy for the year and beyond -- and have a little fun on the side. Aligning with industry trends, major themes for this year's conference included the company's cloud strategy, its plans to build up and secure enterprise virtualization infrastructure and private clouds, and its impending launch into the mobile security space.

Underpinning its vision was an array of product launches, primarily in the storage arena, specifically dedicated to cloud and virtualized infrastructure. Here are a few of the scenes from the event.

Images courtesy of Daniel Gaines Photography.

Welcome To Las Vegas

It could have been worse. This year, Symantec Vision was held at Caesar's Palace, in sunny Las Vegas, Nev., which provided attendees a plethora of entertainment choices when not in conference sessions or keynotes. When they weren't busy soaking up information about Symantec's mobile strategy or its plans to invest in intelligence and data eDiscovery solutions, conference attendees could be seen relaxing by the pool, hanging out in the casino, or perusing The Strip -- to talk about deduplication with the locals.

It's Scary Out There

Not one to shy away from theatrics, Symantec CEO Enrique Salem said that the IT environment is in a period of "profound change" as the workforce becomes more mobile, virtualized and cloud-focused. In particular, Salem noted that security threats were rapidly changing, with malware becoming more "targeted, more toxic and more lethal," even used in cyber espionage activities. Case in point? The Stuxnet virus, surfaced as a 500-megabyte weapon, created with espionage and search and destroy capabilities and designed to target Uranium enrichment facilities in Iran. Looking ahead, Salem said that organizations would almost certainly become more vulnerable to these types of attacks.

Treading In The Footsteps Of Celine

Steve Morton, Symantec vice president of product marketing, served as master of ceremonies for Symantec Vision 2011. In keeping with his promise of avoiding "boring PowerPoint presentations" Morton spreadheaded the interview-style keynotes, touching on the mass migration to the cloud, the explosion of mobile devices in the workplace and emerging security threats, all while adding a little humor to the event. During his opening presentation, Morton referenced The Coliseum, at Caesar's Palace, the site of the Vision keynotes. "Here Celine Dion has given 500 performances," Morton said. "With such great songs as….as…as that one from Titanic."

We've Come A Long Way

CEO Enrique Salem talked about the kind of "profound change" the security industry has experienced over the last 20 years. To underscore how far the industry has come, Salem referenced his former employer Peter Norton. Back in the early 1990s, viruses traveled on floppy disks and antivirus updates were applied once every three months, he said. Twenty years later, the world is dealing with a total of 800,000 petabytes of data, Salem said, compelling Symantec to rethink its security paradigm to one that revolves around people and information. "We hear the same things over and over again. This is a time of profound, meaningful change," he said. "This session at Vision is about rethinking our approach."

Moving On Mobile

Symantec CEO Enrique Salem said that the company is charging ahead into the mobile security space, with impending launches of a mobile management and security products down the road. While still vague on details, Salem later outlined that the company's future mobile strategy would likely include many of the same components for protecting enterprise networks and desktops, incorporating management, authentication, application control and data and privacy protections. The impending solutions would address the multitude of security issues created from the eruption of disparate mobile devices now used in the workplace, such as iPhones, iPads, BlackBerrys and Android smart phones.

Breaking It Down

In what became one of the most memorable presentations of Vision, Deepak Mohan, Symantec senior vice president of the information management group, literally took a sledge hammer to a sheet of glass, in an attempt to illustrate the company's plans to "break the backup window." During his presentation, Mohan talked at length about the five areas where the company was "breaking the backup window" by improving the performance of the backup process, adding search capabilities of backups, adding eDiscovery capabilities, improving visibility of backups in virtualized environments and simplifying the integration of hardware, software and cloud storage. Rumor had it that Mohan had to work on his glass breaking abilities more than a few times before he perfected his technique.

Symantec and Intel Join Forces

In a colloquial keynote, David Thompson, Symantec CIO, interviewed Rick Echavarria, vice president of the Intel architecture group and general manager of the business client platform division, discussing some of the biggest developments between Symantec and Intel. Symantec's Intel partnership has been integral in the development of PGP whole disk encryption, which incorporates Intel anti-theft technology. And executives say that the partnership between Symantec and Intel remains strong, even following Intel's landmark acquisition of security competitor McAfee in 2010.

Not Your Mama's Storage

Anil Chakravarthy, Symantec senior vice president of storage and availability management group, demonstrated a few of Symantec's numerous product launches on the storage side. Among other things, Symantec is charging full speed ahead into the cloud storage space, adding a VMware vCenter plug-in to its Backup Exec 2010 R3, and introducing new hardware appliances with cloud backup features. Meanwhile, Backup Exec 2010 R3 features improved performance of virtual machine backups, and increased security. The goal? Protect and safely store information, regardless of whether customers have a cloud, virtual or physical environment.

Perfect Hosts

During a Vision presentation, Steve Morton, (left), Symantec vice president of product marketing, interviewed Rowan Trollope, senior vice president of Symantec hosted services, about the company's plans for its hosted services division. Trollop said that Symantec Hosted Services, added with the acquisition of MessageLabs in 2009, are growing strong, and well on their way to reaching the stated goal of around 15 percent of the company's business.

V-Ray And Beyond

Brian Dye, Symantec vice president of product management of information management group, introduced an array of products, including an updated Enterprise Vault archiving software and Symantec's newly released V-Ray technology, added to its NetBackup and Backup Exec data protection products. Executives said the technology, dubbed V-Ray, improves transparency of backups in virtualized environments, as well as deduplication performance, while avoiding backups of "garbage data."

In one of the final presentations, Dye demonstrated a Symantec CISO dashboard that contained management and security capabilities for mobile platforms. The platform, which the company plans to release later this year, is aimed at helping organizations deal with the headaches of managing and securing a barrage of disparate mobile devices brought into the workplace, while addressing the multitude of data leakage and malware concerns created when personal devices are used to send and store critical company information.

Storing It Everywhere

Symantec's executives said that the company's vision for the future included an increased emphasis on eDiscovery, business intelligence and analytics. And with more customers migrating their infrastructure to the cloud, cloud backup and archiving solutions were all the rage at this year's Symantec Vision. During the conference, Symantec released Enterprise Vault 10, Enterprise Vault.cloud, and Cloud Storage for Enterprise Vault with the aim of enabling organizations to more quickly and efficiently manage and discover their information.

Specifically, Symantec Enterprise Vault 10 software integrates with Symantec's data loss prevention and encryption technologies to allow organizations to discover data stored in the cloud and from social networks. Symantec's Software-as-a-Service-based Enterprise Vault.cloud offers unlimited cloud storage for e-mail for a flat fee per mailbox per month.

Insecurity On The Horizon

In an onstage interview, Francis Desouza, senior vice president of Symantec enterprise security group, highlighted the emergence of sophisticated new attacks on the security landscape. Echoing what CEO Enrique Salem mentioned in an earlier keynote, Desouza said that increasingly threats would be used by governments as a tool for cyber warfare and espionage. Following a spate of recent cloud data breaches, Desouza also discussed the proliferation of cloud threats on the horizon, saying customers love the agility that cloud delivers, while at the same time they are still on the hook for the security of that data. And very often its third parties that get breached, he said, emphasizing the need for better governance framework within security technologies and the industry overall.

Whaling Away

Between presentations, the appropriately named Symantec band, Manage This, entertained the conference attendees, and even managed to successfully deploy the occasional rim shot after some of Steve Morton's jokes. Little did the Symantec band know when they were choosing names for their band, that "Manage This" would be a critical theme of Symantec Vision 2011, which coincidentally focused on managing the cloud, managing virtualized environments and managing mobile platforms, as well as managing physical endpoints.

Good Partners

Symantec Vision attendees peruse the Partner Pavilion exhibition hall, where partnering vendors showcased their latest cloud, virtualization and other technologies. Symantec has retained key partnerships with companies such as Dell, HP, Salesforce, VMware and Intel, which are integral in many of Symantec's endeavors in both virtualization and the cloud, as well as the company's foray into data intelligence and eDiscovery.

Showing Off

ITS Inc., one of Symantec's premier channel partners, showcases the company's security and backup offerings and provides digestible information comic book-style, to attendees at Symantec Vision's Partner Pavilion. Among other things, ITS provides security solutions for threats such as spyware, spam and viruses, while offering preventative services that include data backup and disaster recovery with local or online backup products, installing and managing software security updates, speeding up "slow" computers and securing networks from intrusion.

Cloudy Days Ahead

If last year Symantec was headed toward the clouds, this year, its Vision was indeed cloudy. Looking ahead, CEO Enrique Salem said that the company had plans to secure private and public cloud infrastructure. And in keeping with its promise to expand into to the cloud, Symantec announced plans to launch a new application designed to help secure Salesforce.

Specifically, the new application, Symantec Security Assessment for Salesforce, is designed to provide greater visibility into customers' IT infrastructure, including cloud applications. The application, which integrates with Symantec Control Compliance Suite, is a tool that gives users a holistic picture of their risk and compliance environment on cloud as well as on-premise platforms.

The partnership also gives Symantec access to the Salesforce.com partner ecosystem, which enables the company to build applications using Force.com technologies, distribute to new customers and market to existing customers via the AppExchange.

Surround Yourself

As demonstrated by a myriad of signs throughout the conference facility, "Surround Yourself" was the overriding theme of this year's Symantec Vision Conference. Conference attendees were subjected to signs that read "Surround Yourself With Solutions," "Surround Yourself With Insights," and "Surround Yourself With Fresh Water." Basically, anything you could surroudn yourself with was on a sign.

Living It Up

For the final night of the conference, Vision attendees were treated to a spectacular poolside party at Caesar's Palace, complete with a full buffet, free alcohol, music, acrobats, belly dancers, and other performers that entertained the crowds throughout the night.

Playing With Fire

In keeping with the ancient Caesar's Palace theme, fire dancers, contortionists and Roman gladiators, were some of the many spectacular entertainers that performed during Vision's gala poolside party.