The executives cite two areas, IT service management and master data management, as tremendously important to its ability to aid customers in addressing risk. To be able to build controls to oversee change and configuration issues on the services side and help companies get their heads around the intricacies of master data management, customers will need more than the traditional security vendors can offer, said Lovejoy.
"The security companies of the future are not the companies that offer capabilities for the newest bells and whistles, it's about those things and more, including all the plumbing needed to make these strategies work," said Lovejoy. "While traditional security players that off threat management have great benefits in securing a perimeter, they're not adept at installation of basic plumbing, which actually helps in managing the majority of the risk."
Partners fret about potential downgrades
Throughout its Global Technology Services unit and IBM software group, including its Tivoli product lines, Big Blue officials contend that the company is far better suited to handle configuration and change management around complex issues like employee identity.
Top executives at Symantec and McAfee concede that IBM enjoys a unique position in the security sector based on the breadth of its products and partnerships and its huge services delivery capabilities.
And while the CEOs of both companies first point out that they consider IBM as one of their closest and most important partners, respectively, they maintain that they too have strengths in IT governance and risk management that will continue to distinguish them from the technology giant.
They also said that IBM will have to resist the urge to promote its own security technologies at the expense of providing customers with best-of-breed technology.
"They're a different beast than us because they play such a big services integration game up and down the IT stack, but it does seem sometimes that everything does look 'blue' to them," said David DeWalt, chief executive at McAfee. "We're not looking to compete with them, and there's not a lot of overlap, so the idea will be to continue to partner where we can."
While recognizing that his company partners with IBM around the globe and that he considers it extremely valuable to continue to do so, John Thompson, chief executive at Symantec, said that there are concerns about IBM giving preference to its in-house technologies.
Prior to joining Symantec nine years ago, Thompson served in the role of general manager of IBM Americas and a member of the company's Worldwide Management Council.
"The issue in terms of our relationship with IBM is if they will continue to be open to technologies that come from outside their own software group, or will they have a strategy as has been articulated as 'blue on blue,' or IBM services packaged around IBM software," Thompson said. "To the extent that they bias their engagements that way, they might limit their ability to compete, and it is clear that they have an institutional bias if you look at some of the things that we have observed on the marketplace."