Industry Heavyweights Form Security Research Alliance

Industry Heavyweights Form Security Research Alliance

The late 1990s are proving to be a chaotic time and the worst of times for security vendors and enterprise IT organizations. Advancements in security technologies are making it increasingly difficult for IT decision makers to stay on top of the newest options, while the advent of open systems and the Internet are serving to underscore the importance of collaboration among vendors in security-related research and development efforts.

With the announcement of the Security Research Alliance, a number of industry leaders hope to usher in a new era of collaboration and security information dissemination.

The Security Research Alliance is the cooperative effort of member companies Cisco Systems Inc. (, Lucent Technologies (, Sun Microsystems Inc. ( and Network Associates Inc. (

The four companies say the goals of the alliance are to facilitate collaboration in advanced security research among members, as well as to provide a knowledge base from which IT administrators can make informed security-related development and implementation decisions.

Explaining the position of the Security Research Alliance as a collaborative effort among partners, Mike Reither, head of secure systems research with Lucent, cautions against expectations that the alliance will work to foster the development of specific security-related technologies with broad applicability for the vendor community in general.

"The alliance hasn’t been formed with the intention of focusing on a specific technology, but the member organizations are going to continue to conduct their research as they see fit," Reither says. "The alliance is going to provide a framework for collaborative partnerships among members as they spring up."

Alliance members will collaborate, however, to develop solutions that benefit customers by ensuring faster development-to-implementation cycles. "The ultimate goal is to benefit our customers," Reither explains. "The immediate effect of the Alliance is going to be fostering better communication among the Alliance members in terms of getting faster technology transfer from the lab to the marketplace."

Alliance members are unlikely to confine their research efforts to specific platforms, but will concentrate on industrywide concerns. "We’re going to be focusing on broader issues," Reither comments. "Overall, however, the goal is to tackle higher-level problems rather than platform specific ones."

Another goal of the alliance is to provide senior corporate IT decision-makers with a perspective on advanced security research.

According to Chris Christiansen, a program director with market research and consulting firm International Data Corp. ( ), the Security Research Alliance will likely benefit the member vendors and their customers. "By enhancing communication between their research organizations, and establishing a forum to discuss security results with real-world customers, Alliance members will create a real-time feedback loop between all concerned parties," Christiansen notes.