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Symantec becomes instant leader in data loss prevention

It was a pretty sure bet that Symantec would buy a DLP company, but why Vontu?

Just last week I wrote a blog that described the ongoing market consolidation around data loss prevention (DLP) and its effect on market leader Vontu.

The blog titled, "High noon for Vontu?", was generally accurate but I got the details wrong. Rather than high noon, it turned out to be midnight on New Year's Eve for the Vontu team: investors got to party like it was 1999 this week when Symantec acquired Vontu for $350 million.

It was a pretty sure bet that Symantec would buy a DLP company, but why Vontu? After all, other security leaders--for example, EMC/RSA, McAfee, Trend Micro, and Websense--went "bottom fishing" and grabbed DLP technologies instead of well-established sales, marketing, and customers.

Symantec decided to swim against the tide because it valued the Vontu enterprise installed base. Like Veritas, Vontu opens enterprise doors for Symantec. The difference is that Vontu opens a door on the security side of the house, making it easier for Symantec to pitch its other IT risk-management and governance products and services.

Aside from DLP, Symantec gains a whole bunch of other complementary product and business opportunities. So all in all, it looks like a good deal. The biggest challenge for Symantec will be reining in Vontu's cowboy culture without squashing its aggressiveness and sales execution. If Symantec can do this, it should get the ROI and synergy it is looking for.

Finally, from a philosophically perspective, this deal is a microcosm of the state of the technology industry today. Last Friday, industry pundits were still criticizing Symantec for missing the DLP market. On Monday, Symantec bought Vontu and became the DLP market leader.