On June 13, Symantec announced its plan to purchase Blue Coat, signaling its desire to own a piece of the market for secure web gateways. It is a major announcement for both companies and we believe it represents a joining of the old guard…with the old guard.
Both companies have been long-time leaders in their legacy markets, with Symantec providing endpoint software solutions, and Blue Coat offering a range of security appliances. But both companies are stuck in the past. Though they have tried to evolve into cloud providers, neither company has successfully made the transition. Symantec continues to sell software and managed security services, while Blue Coat continues to sell boxes. However, enterprises are clearly moving into the cloud—for applications, for data, and for collaboration.
Developing a true cloud solution is non-trivial; it goes well beyond taking what works on-premises and moving it to the cloud. We’ve seen this experiment play out with applications again and again in the last decade. Remember Siebel Systems? They thought they could take Siebel For Enterprise, host it in a data center, and call it a SaaS offering in competition with Salesforce.com. We all know how well that experiment worked.
The difficulty arises from a need to rethink the solution from the ground up. One has to think not just about building an enterprise-scale product, but building an Internet-scale product. This means building a multi-tenant solution that can accommodate millions of users from thousands of organizations, while providing each organization and each user in that organization a customized environment that meets their business needs.
Zscaler cloud security has been built, from day one, as a 100 percent cloud solution. Zscaler enables organizations to protect all their users and data, everywhere they are. Mobile users and those in branch offices get exactly the same security as their counterparts in headquarters, with no expensive backhauling of traffic needed. Policy and control can be customized per user and they remain in effect any time a user accesses the Internet. Essentially, we’ve put a perimeter around the Internet, protecting users no matter where they are.
While “going against the flow” is often admirable, we have trouble seeing how the Symantec and Blue Coat combination is going to address what the market needs in the future. The newly released Gartner report on the secure web gateway (SWG) market confirmed this when it said that market growth in “traditional” secure web gateways (appliances) is slowing, while cloud solutions are growing. The report went on to say that appliance solutions have seen a five-year compound annual growth rate of 6 percent, while cloud solutions have had an annual growth rate of 35 percent in the same period. The same report goes on to say that Zscaler has the largest global cloud footprint – by far.
Business is taking place right now in the cloud, and it’s only logical for businesses to put their security in the cloud, as well. Many security companies are trying to transition into becoming cloud providers, and some, like Symantec and Blue Coat, will try to get there by joining forces. We wish them well in their attempt to make history.