New Symantec CEO says security sells in hard times

Salem expects SaaS to account for 20 percent of the company's business within five years

Enrique Salem, who took the reins of Symantec Corp. as president and CEO this month, sat down with Computerworld's Scot Finnie and Lucas Mearian at the Storage Networking World conference here to talk about how his company is dealing with the recession and his vision of the future of Symantec and the technology business.

Computerworld: How is the economy affecting demand for security products and services?
Salem: Security is something you need all the time, independent of the economic environment. People continue to buy security because they need to protect their information. So we think security continues to do as well or better than other sectors in tech spending.

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CW: Does that make your security business recession-proof?
Salem: I don't want to go that far, but I will say that security will absolutely do better in a recession.

CW: What do you see as the most important trends in IT this year?
Salem: Virtualization continues to be a hot topic. Another trend is software as a service. We absolutely believe that people are going to think about their core competencies: What are the things they have to be good at, and what can they allow other third parties to take advantage of?

Another important trend we see is the "consumerization" of IT. People coming to work every day are bringing new devices. IT has to start thinking about how to embrace these new technologies -- everything from your iPhone to social networking technologies.

CW: What are Symantec's plans for cloud computing and software as a service?
Salem: We define them very specifically. Cloud computing is renting infrastructure -- MIPS storage and so forth. Software as a service is delivering an application into an environment. Our focus is more on software as a service. How do we help our customers do a whole range of things -- from filtering e-mail, to archiving, to encryption -- that has to be delivered as a service? We expect that 20 percent of our business over the next five years will be delivered as a service.

CW: What are Symantec's biggest challenges?
Salem: We went from being a $600 million company in 1999 to a $6 billion company today through about 30 acquisitions. We need to continue to drive the integration of those technologies. Our customers don't want point products. We need to do a better job of continuing to integrate our technologies.

CW: What are the biggest threats facing IT over the next five years?
Salem: It's absolutely [theft of] confidential information. Most security professionals have known for a long time that the real threat is insiders. It's people who have credentials to access confidential information.

CW: Do you plan to fully integrate NetBackup so it can handle disk arrays, clusters, virtual environments, and tape backups?
Salem: Different types of storage media are critical for us, so we will continue to extend the types of targets [that] data can be backed up to. Expect to see Symantec invest in more types of media.

CW: How is Symantec addressing thin provisioning and the larger issue of reallocating storage once thin-provisioned volumes have been moved off to tape or secondary disk?
Salem: We created in Storage Foundation smart-move functionality to move the utilized blocks more efficiently without any knowledge to the applications. [And] we created what we call the thin reclamation API. As applications delete information, you want to make sure that the arrays know that storage is available.

This version of this Q&A originally ran in Computerworld's print edition. It's an abridged version of a longer interview that first ran on

This story, "New Symantec CEO says security sells in hard times" was originally published by Computerworld.