Symantec airs Vontu integration plan

Data-loss prevention technology likely headed for endpoint-security offering

Symantec Tuesday discussed the integration strategy related to its planned US$350 million acquisition of Vontu, the San Francisco-based maker of data-loss prevention products.

The Vontu deal announced Monday will give Symantec the Vontu line of data-loss prevention products for the endpoint, network and storage to stop unauthorized transmission of sensitive corporate data. Founded by CEO Joseph Ansanelli in 2001, Vontu claims to have 200 corporate customers, primarily insurance, banking and manufacturing companies.

Ken Schneider, Symantec's CTO in the data and security-management group, says Symantec will continue to market Vontu's products but long-term plans call for integrating data-leak prevention into Symantec's desktop, network and storage products.

"We already have experience working with Vontu on Symantec's mail-security software for the gateway in which we've embedded Vontu's detection engine, mainly for instant messaging and mail," Schneider says. "After the acquisition is complete, we'll branch out into a more multiprotocol solution."

After the acquisition is complete, which is expected by year end, Symantec's new flagship desktop product, Symantec Endpoint Security, is a likely candidate to gain Vontu's data-loss prevention capability.

Symantec indicated the companies' technical-development teams will work together after the acquisition to determine whether to add the Vontu data-protection directly into Symantec Endpoint Security or simply provide add-on software that would be sold separately.

Symantec and Vontu have offices five blocks from each other in San Francisco, but current plans call for keeping Vontu and its 170 employees as a separate division within Symantec to be headed up by Vontu's founder Ansanelli, who is expected to report to Tom Kendra, Symantec's group president for the security and data-management group.

Vontu's technology includes the ability to crawl through data resources across the network to seek out sensitive data. That's a capability that Symantec intends to put to use to make its own back-up and storage products, NetBackUp and Enterprise Vault, more "content-aware," Schneider says. "For instance, when lawyers have to handle e-discovery requests to locate information, we think this could facilitate that."

The Vontu acquisition got a thumbs-up from at least one Wall Street firm, Goldman Sachs, which issued a research bulletin saying Symantec needed to get into the data-loss prevention market to keep up with competitors.

"In general, we believe this was a needed acquisition in order for Symantec to stay competitive with McAfee's Onigma and SafeBoot buys, EMC's Tablus acquisition, and Check Point's purchase of Protect Data in the high-growth data-loss prevention arena," Goldman Sachs stated.

Another competitor eager to make use of data-loss prevention technology is Symantec competitor Trend Micro, which recently announced it is acquiring data-leak prevention start-up Provilla.

Symantec has been on a billion-dollar buying spree over the last few years, snapping up Altiris, BindView, Veritas, WholeSecurity, Mountain Wave, SafeWeb, BightMail, Relicore, IMLogic and PowerQuest.

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Ellen Messmer

Network World

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