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.

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