An Interview with Symantec CEO Enrique Salem

Monday, March 29, 2010

Rahul Neel Mani

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Enrique Salem, President and CEO of Symantec, in a conversation with Vinita Gupta, discusses the new challenges that CIOs are facing and Symantec's roadmap for the years ahead.

 

Q:What are the challenges CIOs face today and how can Symantec help them?

A:CIOs are facing enormous challenges, both internally and externally. Internally they are focused on reducing costs, minimising risks and achieving near and long-term ROI, while externally, they are confronted by an increasing number of threats.Malicious activity is growing at a record pace; at the same time, data breaches are becoming more prevalent and costly. The amount of data customers must deal with is growing exponentially year on year. Enterprises must have the appropriate security posture to ensure controls. This should include policies that sensitive information cannot be copied on to personal storage devices and emails. Symantec provides customers with the appropriate tools that help protect data irrespective of where it resides.Another trend that is impacting businesses is the consumerisation of IT. Increasingly, employees are bringing in their own devices such as laptops and mobile devices and they want to connect them to corporate networks. This could put sensitive information under tremendous risk. Further as software-as-a-service (SaaS) continues to grow in popularity, customers' most sensitive data, more often than not, will be found in the “cloud” – stored outside their network. Symantec created more than 1.6 million new malicious code signatures in 2008. That is more than what we have created in the last 17 years combined. Currently, we block an average of more than 250 million attempted malicious code attacks across the world every month and we scan 30 percent of global email traffc.


Q:There are many security solutions available in the market but security is still a major concern for CIOs. Comment.

A:Yes, things have changed a lot. When I started my career in the security business, kids wanted to show-off and it was a matter of pride. Now, the shift is towards monetary gains. Clearly, there is a shift from mass attacks to attacks targeting devices. In the recent past, attackers are targeting specifc enterprises, and, what's more, attacks are becoming incredibly handcrafted. It is about breaking into an enterprise network in search for sensitive information. But, there's another aspect to this - the malicious insider, who has acces to sensitive information and takes undue advantage of the privilege. We realised that since the attacks were getting targeted, we can’t just keep writing signatures. We created what we call reputation-based security. We believe that by supplementing the classic approaches with reputation-based security techniques, where every application is assigned a reputation value, we can signifcantly strengthen security.


Q:Symantec has said that within fve years it is going to have 15 percent of its revenue coming from SaaS offering. How?

A:SaaS has the potential to be a gamechanging transition in the IT world, and Symantec is well-positioned to expand its position in the market space. Symantec Hosted Services now covers more than nine million end users from 21,000 organizations spanning 100 countries. Symantec is currently the largest infrastructure SaaS provider and we manage 41 petabytes of cloud-based back-up. We are also adding 100,000 consumers a month. We’ll continue to look for innovative ways that provide our customers choice and flexibility in how they purchase and use our products and services. Also we will continue to invest in SaaS offerings across the product portfolio, leveraging Symantec technology in data loss prevention, compliance, endpoint security and archiving.


Q:Why is Symantec concentrating more on storage virtualization and de-duplication?

A:We are moving de-duplication closer to information sources by integrating the technology into information management platforms. Recently we announced new versions of our fagship backup and recovery solutions, NetBackup 7 and Backup Exec 2010. We’ll also look at waysto help our customers build scalable, high-performance fle-based storage systems for their enterprise, including private and public clouds using our FileStore technology.


Q:What is your vision as a CEO for Symantec?

A:I have been a CEO for a year now and what I would like to see Symantec grow and continue to be the leader in information management not just in market share but also in thought. To me, Symantec should constantly innovate to stay ahead of customers' requirements in information management. We need to continue to enhance today’s solutions so that we can meet current customer demands, while at the same time focus on developing new solutions and services to meet future customer needs. Innovation is one of our core values and we strive to build a culture of innovation within Symantec. We believe our internal R&D efforts, coupled with newly acquired technologies, will help to strengthen our businesses and improve our competitive positioning.
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