By Paul Hales
13 November 2006
THE $1.3 BILLION acquisition of Internet Security Services (ISS) by IBM,
finalised just over three weeks ago, overshadows events at the company's
annual EMEA channel shindig held this year in sunny Marbella.
While some ISS executives may have acquired extra swagger to their gait,
some smaller resellers are feeling a little anxious of what the future
may hold for them once IBM sinks its big blue teeth into the
So the message central to the presentations being held here is: business
IBM has committed to allow ISS to continue to operate as a largely
autonomous unit. And those swaggering executives from the smaller
company are salivating over the prospect of the massive resources now
available to them.
And IBM is seeking to reassure ISS's channel partners that the deal is
good for them too.
The deal, IBM says, came about a result of customer pressure. Jocelyn
Furniss, IBM Global Services Channels Executive says IBM set its sights
firmly on the security market after "customers have been telling us how
important security is."
She also noted that estimates have the market growing by around 15 per
cent per year, to be worth some $55 billion next year. Certainly, that
helped IBM to rustle up the $1.3 billion. "It's a big deal," she
IBM doesn't necessarily have salesmen, it seems. What it does have
though is 11,000 "relationship managers". And these guys, as they manage
their relationships, will now be working for ISS and its channel
partners, generating new leads for the specialist salesmen populating
ISS's established channel.
Ask Tom Noonan, ISS one-time chairman, president and CEO all wrapped up
in one, why IBM plumped for ISS and he'll tell you it's all about the
platform. To him, it makes no sense for an enterprise to buy different
bits and bobs to track down viruses or build firewalls or sniff out
malware and the like and then to have staff trained in the use of a
range of different applications, when ISS's Proventia platform will do
the lot. Additional tools can simply be added 'on demand' he says, as
the enterprise develops different needs.
Indeed, he realises ISS started banging on about on demand services
around the same time as IBM did, not that he thought that much about it
at the time, but evidently, "they were watching us, " he says.
We'll hear more from Tom later, after we find out how much of the
message has been swallowed by his resellers.
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