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New antivirus software in the wings

Network Associates will release a new version of antivirus software acquired in the buyout of Dr. Solomon's.

Network Associates next week will release a new version of antivirus management software it acquired last June with the buyout of Dr. Solomon's, but one key security analyst suggests that the technology still trails products made by smaller rival Trend Micro.

Network Associates' new offering, Total Virus Defense Management Edition, allows network administrators to automate management and control how its antivirus software runs on desktops from a single place.

The product, which will ship next week, is a new version of antivirus management software it acquired last year with Dr. Solomon's in a $650 million stock deal.

"It's great that Network Associates is expanding its server and management story, but they are still playing catch-up," said Ted Julian, Internet security analyst at Forrester Research, who regards Trend Micro as the historical front-runner in server-based antivirus software. Last April, Trend announced its centralized management console.

"Management Edition is for people who wanted very powerful software distribution for [antivirus] upgrades," said Sal Viveros, director o marketing for Network Associates' Total Virus Defense product line. "This makes it scalable to any size of network."

Centralized control means that network managers in large firms don't have to visit each PC individually to install and upgrade antivirus software. Network Associates' console also allows updating desktop software from multiple servers without requiring each machine to connect directly to a central location.

"It reduces bandwidth for management of antivirus solutions and cuts down on the associated costs and people," Viveros added.

Industry analysts began talking last year about centralized control of antivirus software as an emerging trend. A Meta Group report said management was a better reason to choose a particular product than actual virus detection abilities, and Forrester's Julian made a similar recommendation in November.

Network Associates' acquisition of Dr. Solomon's, one in a series of security acquisitions, had raised eyebrows last year, since Network Associates itself began as an antivirus company, McAfee Associates.

The deal bought Network Associates distribution and market share in Europe. Dr. Solomon's management software came too but was largely overlooked at the time of the acquisition.