Symantec CEO Opens Roadmap

Thompson sketches product strategy for merging Symantec security and Veritas backup

April 15, 2005

3 Min Read
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PHOENIX -- Storage Networking World -- Hoping that the close of his companys $13.5 billion acquisition of Veritas Software Corp. (Nasdaq: VRTS) is drawing near, Symantec Corp. (Nasdaq: SYMC) CEO John Thompson stopped by the Storage Networking World conference to offer a sketchy roadmap of the planned product integration.

Thompson says he hopes the deal closes around the end of May (see Symantec & Veritas: It's a Deal). He identified the new buzzwords around the combination of backup and security: “resilient infrastructure.” And he made it clear all products will bear the Symantec name. But he offered little hope for customers overwhelmed by having to manage a host of agents to run Veritas software.

Thompson says for the first six months after the deal closes, Veritas and Symantec products will remain the same as they are now, but Symantec will look to bundle across product lines. For instance, Symantec’s DeepSite virus monitoring software might be sold with Veritas backup.

“Don’t assume we’re going to have an architectural footprint that we’re going to drop on people from Day One,” he said in a Wednesday afternoon news conference.

Between six months to a year after the deal, Thompson expects the products will be given a common look and feel as they take on characteristics “that make it look like [they're] coming from one company, not two.”And that one company will be Symantec. “There’s no disagreement about that; there is not even any discussion about that,” Thompson said when asked if all the products will bear the Symantec name.

Current Veritas product families will retain the Veritas brand, though, perhaps long after the two companies are fully integrated. Thompson points out Symantec bought Norton in 1990 and still uses the brand for its SMB and consumer anti-virus software.

Veritas’s “utility computing” mantra will be short lived, though. It will eventually give way to “resilient infrastructure,” which Thompson defines as the integration of security and availability. Not to worry, Veritas fans. Thompson did utter the other Veritas mantra: “No hardware agenda.” And utility computing won’t disappear right away.

“We have 2,200 [sales] people on the Veritas side who know the utility computing message. I don’t want to turn that message off. There’s 2,200 people who talk about optimize, integrate, yadda, yadda, yadda.”

Something else that won’t go away from Veritas products are agents that must be installed on protected servers, although Thompson is aware that is a common customer complaint. The trick will be to launch integrate security and backup software without increasing a need for agents that complicate users’ lives (see Veritas Pummeled by Panel and Veritas Regroups).“Don’t think we’re going to have an über agent -- that’s not practical nor realistic. Now, similar functions can be performed by the same agent, so we can lighten the load. But there’s no one common agent that’s going to eliminate all this.”

From a business standpoint, Thompson says, it’s safe to assume Symantec will continue to acquire companies on both the backup and security sides. Symantec and Veritas have aggressively acquired companies, and Symantec will have $3 billion in cash after completing a $3 billion stock buyback. “We don’t need $3 billion in operating cash to run our business, so we have to figure out what to do."

As for Symantec’s No. 1 rival, Thompson made it clear he’s hunting big game -- yes, bigger even than its backup software rival EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC). Near the end of his news conference, Thompson perked up when asked about Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT). The Redmond gang is moving more heavily into data protection and security (see Microsoft Backs Up on CDP Claim and Microsoft's Recovery Plan).

“What about ‘em?” Thompson snapped, in mock scowl. “Beating up on little companies don’t mean anything. Beating up on Microsoft is going to be a helluva lot of fun.”

— Dave Raffo, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

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