Saving the world

Symantec's CEO hopes to boost revenue and profits by focusing on emerging markets.

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By  Sathya Ashok Published  August 15, 2007

As people become more mobile by the day, lifestyles become highly digital and access technologies grow it is only natural that corporations and enterprises are beginning to look at endpoint security more seriously again. Even more crucially - people are becoming the new perimeter, said John Thompson, Symantec's CEO.

"You have to move security closer and closer to where the data is being created and managed, or where the interactions are occurring. And that is the endpoint. People have now become the perimeter and you have to protect the people as opposed to protecting the device or the network. The recently launched Symantec Endpoint Protection solution is about moving as the people move, moving as the perimeter moves," he said.

On his first Middle East visit, Thompson emphasised that part of the reason for Symantec's growth from a consumer oriented firm to the fourth largest independent software vendor within the space of eight years, was that it was ready to change when it sensed a new trend.

"Our solutions position the company for what is a very exciting future, where we can grow revenues in the range of 8% to 12%. We should be able to grow earnings two to three points above revenue growth," he stated.

Thompson added that if the company aspired to better growth, it was essential for it to perform well in the Middle East region as it was one of the most significant growth markets globally.

"I think there's a mutual dependency - we need them, because they give us insight into what is going on in one of the most rapidly growing segments in the world, and they need us to protect the digital content they're creating every day," he said.

Thompson also warned that enterprises should link security technology investments with stringent policy measures to prevent future mishaps.

"The reality is that most of the security breaches that occur are not breaches of technology, but breaches of process. Companies have to follow best practices, not just deploy technology," he said.

The Symantec CEO also stated that the company's partnerships with various technology vendors worldwide have been created in order to strengthen operations and open up new markets in an age where no single company can serve the needs of all customers.

"Since we made great software, we felt it would be better to partner with companies in the hardware business. That is at the heart of our relationship with Juniper, Nortel, Dell and Huawei. What's different about the Huawei relationship is we saw a market opportunity in China and some of the developing markets, and we felt that having a partner like Huawei was very important for market access. And so the two of us decided to come together and create a third company - which will be called the Huawei-Symantec Joint Venture Company," Thompson said.

According to him, Huawei will put in a running security business and 750 people. Symantec will put storage and security IP (intellectual property), and seed capital of US$150 million into the company.

The new company will focus on storage and security appliances, targeted initially at markets where traditionally Huawei is very strong, including China, Latin America, Eastern Europe. Eventually it plans to target the rest of the world.

"I think that's a thoughtful way to think about participation in rapidly-growing markets, where you need the capabilities that a partner brings beyond what you bring yourself," concluded Thompson.

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