Company to shake up structure and consolidate products, conference told. But a Bell Canada IT manager says more will have to be done to keep Symantec a customer
LAS VEGAS — As the manager of IT at one of Canada’s largest media companies, Sam Cioci feels like he’s spending too much time looking into his environment and trying to glean information from it.
At Bell Media, a division of BCE Inc., Cioci is responsible for overseeing in excess of 6,500 end points used by staff. He’s using a suite of different products to collect data about the environment and answer key questions about its operation. For example: What are the sources of incoming threats? How are those being mitigated?
“Because we’re in the media sector we’re in the target vector,” he said in an interview at Symantec’s Vision conference here. “Whether it’s in e-mails or drive-by attacks on the Web sites we visit.”
It’s a task that requires the full-time attention of one of his three technical team members and he’d like that to change. Cioci’s problem of managing a complicated environment has been a topic of discussion at the security vendor’s annual technical and customer conference. About 2,500 attendees heard about how Symantec is working to reorganize itself — under a vision dubbed “Symantec 4.0” laid out by new CEO Steve Bennett — to offer more complete solutions to their customers.
Since taking the helm last July, Bennett (pictured above) hasn’t minced words words scribing the problems of the firm. He was similarly blunt in his opening keynote Tuesday.
“Our strategy for growth was acquisition and we bought some great companies, but we didn’t integrate the companies,” he said. “We had a complicated go–to-market which gave us operational challenges. We had great assets but it was very confusing.”
Symantec has changed its organizational structure over the past eight months and it will continue to transform over the next year or two, he said. The Symantec 4.0 plan calls for product convergence under a unified engineering team over a 24-month schedule. The major branding efforts are expected to begin in earnest July 1, when the new go-to-market phase of the strategy takes hold.
In a strategy presentation Bennett made at a Morgan Stanley TMT conference in March, he highlighted three examples of those new solutions:
· Mobile workforce productivity that integrates endpoint protection, mobile device management, mobile container, mobile application management, enterprise app store, endpoint encryption, endpoint DLP, and user authentication
· Business continuity that integrates Windows backup, Unix/Linux backup, virtual backup, clustering, replication, disaster recovery, and service orchestration.
· Information security service that integrates analysis, correlation, visibility, dashboard, threat detection, prioritization and workflow, incident management, and risk management.
The reorganization is the most important aspect of what’s happening at the Vision conference for Chris O’Connor, a senior consulting analyst with London, Ont.,-based Info-Tech Research Group. It’s going to help Symantec compete with one competitor, ComVault, a firm that offers one code base across all of its products.
“The industry is moving to an approach where the siloed style is not working,” he says in an interview. “They’re (Symantec) reaching a level of maturity.”
Benefits for customers like Bell Media’s Cioci include more powerful dashboards that could manage more functions and capabilities, he says. Plus, a new concept that Symantec is talking about is “information fabric” – a layer of meta-data that is common across all data types and will help IT administrators get better insight into their data. Information such as how long it’s been stored, how often it’s accessed, whether its deteriorating, etc.
“That will give people a better grasp on what data they need to keep and what data to dump or move to an archive tier,” O’Connor says. “That’s something storage administrators have a lot of trouble with.”
Still, the reorganization isn’t very interesting to Cioci.
“I think it’s going to help Symantec more than anything else, it’s not going to help me,” he says. “I need some better real-world examples to stand behind my position.”
His position is that Symantec is one of Bell Media’s four strategic technology partners. He views the vendor as one that produces high-quality products and is a leader in the space when it comes to identifying and mitigating possible cyber-threats. He uses its products for everything from desktop imaging, risk assessment and mitigation, and backup. All of his Symantec products are provided by channel partner Softchoice.
In the middle of an upgrade from Symantec Endpoint Protection version 11 to 12, Cioci has more practical concerns on his mind. Like how to continue to convince the corporate side of Bell that Symantec is the right choice for his organization, when that division uses a different solution.
“As long as I can support a strong business case, I’m allowed to continue,” he says. “But every time I go down that road, the questions get stronger and stronger.”
What has caught his attention is Symantec’s managed security services offering. That could help free up his team members from scouring his environment entirely, and have those 40 hours per week focused on other security management priorities.
(Brian Jackson is editor of our sister news service, IT Business.ca)
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