Vendors Vie for Customer Favor with Unified Security Tools

As security threats continue to grow in sophistication, vendors are pounding the pavement with unified tools and promises that their products provide cost-effective and efficient ways to protect data and networks.

The emphasis on unified tools is a trend that has accelerated in the past few years through acquisitions and mergers in the security space. A company with a gap in its security portfolio would buy another vendor and integrate the technologies, said Forrester Research analyst Paul Stamp.

The battle between best-of-breed and product suites is not unique to security, and is part of a natural progression, Stamp said. New threats are met with point solutions; as an understanding of a problem develops and tools become more effective, consolidation follows.

“I think it’s something that people have always wanted to do,” Stamp said. “Users want to get the job done as simply and securely as possible.”

Vendors certainly hope so. A number of unified tools have emerged in the marketplace recently. Beginning the week of June 4, Microsoft, Symantec and McAfee all made announcements related to unifying security.

Click here to read about more how Symantec and McAfee are competing head-to-head with centralized network security products.

Microsoft introduced an upcoming product, code-named Stirling, designed to enable IT managers to centrally set policy as well as configure, deploy and manage security within their IT environments. When it is officially released— the beta version is slated to be available later in 2007—it will include the next-generation versions of the Forefront Client Security, Server Security, and Edge Security and Access solutions, plus a unified management console.

Symantec is combining endpoint security technologies such as anti-virus, anti-spyware, host and network intrusion prevention, and others into a single agent at the endpoint with the stated goal of enabling customers to reduce costs and complexity. Called Endpoint Protection 11.0, the product is slated to be available in September. It is compatible with Symantec’s NAC (Network Access Control), Symantec officials said, and the software is integrated into the same endpoint agent and management console—though users must purchase a separate license to enable it.

McAfee made its ePolicy Orchestrator 4.0 available as a beta June 11. Part of the company’s Total Protection suite, the application includes a number of new features, including improved Web-based controls, configurable reports and other enhancements designed to make it easier for IT personnel to manage multiple security and compliance applications from a single Web-based console.

“Large organizations need to improve security throughout the enterprise, but not at the expense of ridiculously high operating costs,” said Jon Oltsik, an analyst at the Enterprise Strategy Group.

“Best-of-breed point tools will only survive if they can be integrated together, and this just hasn’t happened to date. If the small guys can’t fix this, big guys like Microsoft will provide their own integrated solutions and APIs and push the industry in this direction,” Oltsik said.

Check out’s Security Center for the latest security news, reviews and analysis. And for insights on security coverage around the Web, take a look at eWEEK’s Security Watch blog.

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