Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Electing to receive

I've been off the air again for a short while, changing positions again as a contract came up locally without quite so much travel. I'm not going to reveal my new whereabouts, largely because I'm not sure they'd be too happy about me talking about them, but also because it wouldn't add much to the mix.

I've been there a week now, and things are changing fast. The security department is being split up and pushed into every area of the company so that 'security is part of everything we do', which is admirable, if not lofty. I've ended up in the architecture team, which suits me fine, if not what I'd expected. What it does do is allow me to get on the receiving end of some vendors for a change, instead of delivering.

Last week I had a Webex about WebInspect from HP. Now I'm sure this is a great piece of kit, but it's really tough to sell over Webex. Fortunately for them, we've already bought it. I'm sure another sale would warrant a site visit, at which point the SE could shine, but over the phone it didn't really work for me.

I don't miss being an SE, it did serve as a great way to increase my salary quickly over a short period of time, and latterly to help me move from permanent roles into contracting because I found myself moving around so much and didn't want to appear like a job hopper. It also half killed me with travel and working from home is more stressful than you might imagine.

I was lucky to find a contract with work which suits me well and is practically on my doorstep. I don't think I'd ever go back to being an SE now, maybe I'm over critical because I've been one, but it's a thankless task, and I don't think you could pay me enough to do it again now.

I look forward to writing a bit more about the various technologies that I look at in the next few months. In the meantime I obviously can't talk about projects or politics in the workplace, but maybe I'll thrill you all with policies and general security blather.

Friday, 1 August 2008

DLP going mainstream?

Alan reports the recent Reconnex acquisition by McAfee today. This started my head spinning off in all sorts of directions.

Compare and contrast the price which McAfee have paid for Reconnex with that which Symantec paid for Vontu. $46m as opposed to $350m. Websense bought PortAuthority for $80m. That's quite a big chunk of change in difference. Prices are coming right down, but the reality is, that's still a good price. Reconnex have been pretty lucky, considering the current financial climate. Maybe they don't care too much, as a small privately owned company, they will have all done well and be able to ride out the storm, and that's great for them. McAfee already have Onigma under their belt, so I hope Reconnex is a good complementary piece of kit for them.

My concern is where this leaves other DLP companies. I have worked and collaborated with Vericept and Orchestria, two other players in this space. Vericept and Vontu used to be the 2 big boys, but Vontu did some great targeted marketing, picked their key accounts, did all the right things, under-developed and over-promoted in the early days, then let the technology catch up as they rode the wave. That's the way to do it, and despite Vericept's complaints that they did it the "right way", i.e. had a solid product and spent less on marketing, that's not how the world works.

Orchestria is another product that falls foul of this effect. It is vast and comprehensive, a techies dream. Give it to a sysadmin and they will not come out of their cave for a month. However, it's not the sysadmin who buys DLP. I like Orchestria, it is far more than DLP, but it isn't productised and it isn't marketed enough.

Both of these stories are disappointing, not least because I know and like the people involved in these companies and they have worked hard, possibly harder than those in the other companies I've mentioned. If I had a few million dollars, I'd buy one of them, because although the prices for DLP companies are going to be much lower from now on, the market will stay and increase, especially for those technologies which ARE more than DLP.

There are a couple of acquirers left, but they are the ones who traditionally bide their time and watch the market - HP, IBM, etc. they don't pay big bucks for technology on the rise, they pay sensible bucks for established kit which they can add to a portfolio.