Symantec plans small-business services

Symantec will follow up the release of its Symantec Protection Network backup service with a range of new SAAS (software-as-a-service) offerings in 2008 and beyond, company executives said Monday.

The Cupertino, California, software vendor plans to release its first SAAS offering by year's end, a backup service for small and medium-size businesses called the Symantec Protection Network, which will allow Symantec's data centers to "take all the problems of backup and run it efficiently for small-to-medium-size businesses," said Greg Hughes, group president, Global Services during a meeting with reporters Monday.

But following that, Symantec will introduce a variety of services that will give small businesses a way of doing things like filtering unsafe Web sites or e-mail messages, and even remotely accessing desktop PCs. "We're going to enter messaging, message hygiene, [and] remote client operation," he said.

Symantec, like Google and Microsoft, sees an opportunity to provide smaller companies with applications and IT services over the Web, Hughes said. "We see infrastructure as a big need for small-to-medium business."

Google, in particular, may soon become a more important competitor following its acquisitions of security vendors Postini and Green Border Technologies, and with its rumored Gdrive backup service.

But with its sales channel relationships and years of experience doing business with small and medium-size companies, Symantec feels that it can hold its own against the search juggernaut. "We really think when you look at Symantec we have a number of advantages," said Hughes. "We're really trusted when it comes to protecting data."

Symantec CEO John Thompson said he was not particularly surprised by Google's entry into the security market, saying that the Postini acquisition was simply part of the "drive toward making Google apps more relevant to the enterprise buyer."

He added that he was not particularly concerned to have Google as a competitor. "I doubt that Google's intent is to be solely in the security business," he said.

As for Symantec's other SAAS competitors, Thompson seemed more worried about companies like IBM or Oracle entering the space. "I don't think it's a foregone conclusion that Microsoft will be a player at all," he said.

"I think the market's going to get very frothy," Thompson added. "Microsoft can't be the only one who plays here."

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