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Symantec's Big Wrap

Symantec is attacking security on many fronts, but calling it an 'ecosystem' is a bit much

4:10 PM -- Reporters are frequently asked to write something called a "wrap story," an article that ties several different events together under a common theme. The idea, editors believe, is to make a broader story out of several smaller developments.

Occasionally, a wrap story works. But as any reporter will tell you, they usually don't. Because the more stuff you try to cram under a common theme, the less meaning the theme carries.

The "wrap" problem was on my mind today as I looked at a raft of announcements from Symantec, which are neatly wrapped under the moniker "Security 2.0." (See Symantec Outlines Vision.) Here's a look at what the security giant announced:

  • A broad-brush "vision for protecting customers from the next generation of threats." Dubbed Security 2.0, the concept "brings together an ecosystem of products, services, and partnerships to help customers remain confident in today's connected world."

  • Norton Confidential Online Edition, a software package designed to improve bank-to-consumer communications security.

  • A partnership with VeriSign to support VeriSign Identity Protection (VIP) Authentication Service, which helps protect consumer identities and prevent fraud.

  • A joint venture with Accenture that will result in a combined consulting service that helps enterprises with compliance, application security, and security monitoring and management.

  • Symantec Database Security, a new product that helps protect data stored in enterprise database management systems.

  • The Symantec Mail Security 8300 Series, a new email security gateway that offers content filtering to help enterprises protect against data leakage while ensuring compliance with external regulations and internal policies.

    So we have a banking application, a consumer identity theft package, a security consulting service for large corporations, an enterprise database management tool, and an email gateway. Other than the fact that these all are security products, how do they add up to a single, named concept? Even if you put them together with Symantec's existing product line, they all serve very different audiences. It's like putting a cat, a spider, two cows, and a goat together and calling it "an ecosystem."

    Individually, I have nothing against any of these announcements. All of them are needed, and all of them will benefit from having Symantec's expertise and marketing power behind them. Each product addresses a recent problem that has cropped up in the industry.

    But when Symantec wraps them all together and says they are all a part of a plan to build "customer confidence," I just have to call a foul. When it comes to security, consumers, small businesses, and large enterprises have very different needs. Symantec is versatile enough to meet them all, but why do IT managers, soccer moms, and retailers all have to drink the same kool-aid? Even Microsoft has different operating system versions for consumers and enterprises.

    In this case, my editor might say, "customer confidence" is too thin a theme to justify a big "wrap" story. [Ed. note: Not at all, Tim. We just want you to be happy. Now put down the shiv and let the nice men with the canvas coat 'help' you.] What Symantec actually has is several smaller stories that are all important to their own constituencies. It might not be an ecosystem, but there's nothing wrong with that.

    — Tim Wilson, Site Editor, Dark Reading

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