Friday, March 30, 2012

BYOD is here to stay

Business organizations are embracing the use of Android and Apple iOS-based tablets and smartphones in a big way. And why not? - they are light, easy to use, easy to carry, and easy to personalize. Bring your own device may be one of those cases where the marketing hype actually lags customer adoption!

The challenge for security teams is how to say "yes" to this revolution in end-user computing while still protecting the business infrastructure. If your organization can mandate installation of a mobile security application, then by all means leverage that capability. If your business cannot dictate endpoint security software, then you can use network security to assess and audit each tablet or smartphone device as it joins the network. In fact, that is the only way you can pragmatically account for both managed and unmanaged devices with one security solution. ForeScout, Cisco, Juniper, Bradford, and StillSecure have intereesting ideas in this space. ForeScout in particular has a compelling BYOD story that they are starting to tell here.

Friday, March 16, 2012

SonicWALL or SonicBoom !

My rule of thumb on evaluating acquisitions is "How does the acquisition help customers in ways that cannot be achieved organically?”. Sometimes the answer lies in acquiring key technology such as with Trend Micro's acquisition of Third Brigade or Juniper's purchase of Mykonos; sometimes the answer lies in bringing solutions to new opportunities such as with IBM scoring Q1 Labs. It is extraordinarily hard to blend diverse corporate cultures even with beneficial common goals, which is one of the reasons that acquisitions often fall short of their potential.

It has been a few days since Dell and SonicWALL have announced their acquisition, and given time to think about it I still love the deal. I'm not passing judgment on the value of the deal, but on its potential impact on customers. This agreement promises to benefit customers in fundamental ways and looks to be everything that a good deal should be.

SonicWALL is reinventing themselves from a company servicing SMB markets to a company marketing application intelligent next generation firewall products that compete strongly in high performance service provider networks. However, their past brand identity as an SMB-oriented vendor makes it challenging for SonicWALL to achieve explosive growth with its SuperMassive product line in large enterprise markets. Now SonicWALL has major financial backing to continue their reanimation in enterprise security and an opportunity to launch a new brand.

Dell is in a similar position of selling efficiently to SMBs, but desiring entrees to larger deal sizes. Security tends to be driven by up-market revenues - in SonicWALL they have a flagship network security product that would be attractive to any large enterprise, and Dell also acquires security technology DNA that can only help beef up Dell's security product lines.

The only losers I can find in this deal are SonicWALL competitors. The space for next generation firewalls is heating up, and not everybody can be a winner – this will only get more interesting!