Symantec Unveils Digital Immune System Strategy

Building on last year’s technology and marketing agreements with IBM and the purchase of Intel’s anti-virus technology, Symantec built the Digital Immune System, a strategy for providing corporate customers intelligent tools to help systems run better.

LAS VEGAS -- Building on last year’s technology and marketing agreements with IBM Corp. and the purchase of Intel Corp.’s anti-virus technology, Symantec Corp. built the Digital Immune System, a strategy for providing corporate customers intelligent tools to help systems run better.

The Digital Immune System, which will consist of a combination of Symantec’s applications and systems and policy management, will work on its own or integrate with commonly used enterprise management frameworks to give IT managers control of Symantec products in their enterprise from one console.

Brian Foster, group program manager, Digital Immune System says the company is preparing to enter beta testing with the solution.

"The Digital Immune System, right now, is a vision for a family of products, not a product itself," he says.

Symantec will release the Digital Immune System in phases during an 18-month period. In the first phase, which is scheduled for the third quarter of this year and dubbed version 1.0, the Digital Immune System will include a managed anti-virus solution built on top of Norton AntiVirus Corporate Edition. This will be linked to an intelligent back-end system at the Symantec AntiVirus Research Center (SARC), featuring technology conceived at IBM Research and jointly developed with the scientists at SARC.

In addition, the Digital Immune System will provide administrators with a central console for policy management, from which administrators will have control over the functionality of each product in the Digital Immune System suite.

The second phase of the Digital Immune System, which is also the second version, is scheduled to be available in the first half of 2000. In addition to the products included in version 1.0, this will include pcANYWHERE, Norton Speed Disk, Norton Ghost and mobile worker support.

Part of the overall solution will be a concept Symantec refers to as the cure spreading faster than the disease. When Symantec solves a problem for one customer in the Digital Immune System community, it will become available to all Digital Immune System users, which enables them to update their technology immediately and hopefully eliminate the problem before it starts.

Symantec claims this solution, along with the IBM partnership, will help the company move away from its reputation as a consumer-oriented software maker and into the back offices of large corporations.

"This is part of our strategy to move into the enterprise," says Elizabeth Magliana, senior director of corporate customer unit, Symantec’s anti-virus unit. "A number of the tools we release, moving forward, are for the server. We have client pieces, but the investment will on the server side."

Ted Julian, an analyst with market research firm Forrester Research (www.forrester.com), agrees that the Digital Immune System will help Symantec move into the enterprise space but points out that the solution is a requirement to do so.

"This is not a matter of Symantec coming out with a solution that is head and shoulders above the rest, it just means that they now have a solution," he says. "Having this solution doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll get the business, it just puts them on the list of options to consider."

While this solution is new to Symantec, it is not new to the market. Symantec, in fact, is entering what Forrester calls the content security market. Trend Micro Inc. (www.antivirus.com) already has a similar offering and Network Associates Inc. (www.nai.com) is currently working on one, says Julian.

"Trend Micro may not have the name recognition that Symantec does, but it is driving the major players to create solutions like the Digital Immune System to keep up with it."