Symantec confirms talks with Kiwi mail-scrubber SMX

The two companies are exploring bundling their products into a service for on-sale, says Symantec vice president

Security software giant Symantec is holding talks with Kiwi secure email software developer SMX.

David Sykes, Symantec’s Pacific vice president, confirmed to Computerworld the company is “doing some work” with SMX. The two companies are exploring bundling their products into a service for on-sale, he says.

“We are also looking at how we can address the area of managed email and what we should be doing in that space,” Sykes says.

One of SMX’s founders, Jesse Ball, says he’s excited about the Symantec opportunity. The concept of a managed security service has “real potential”, he says.

“No agreement has been signed but we are working towards that in the very near future,” Ball says.

Asked if SMX would be another Ghost — the Kiwi disk-cloning software company Symantec bought in 1998 — Sykes said “there will never be another Ghost”. He says Ghost pays for itself every year and was just about the perfect acquisition for Symantec.

Symantec is looking at all its options, including building a managed email product itself, says Sykes. But he is of the view that a partnership is the way to go.

The SMX talks are being driven out of Symantec’s services organisation in Sydney. A possible model for the kind of service a Symantec/SMX combination could put together is the company’s Remote Infrastructure Management Service (RIMS), which bundles PC management software into a commodity service for resale to channel partners to on-sell to small- and medium-sized businesses. However, Sykes says the service could also be sold to the big end of town, with service-level agreements attached.

“We are looking at a similar kind of service around email and enterprise messaging, generally,” says Sykes.

“The local company here has some technologies that would be very interesting in that space.”

In November, SMX raised $890,000, half from the government’s Endeavour i-cap fund and half from three angel investors.

The funding was to help take the company’s mail-scrubbing product, SecureMX, to the global market.

SecureMX acts as a gateway for an organisation’s email, filtering viruses and spam before the mail is delivered to the company’s mail server. Charging for the service is by a flat monthly fee.

SecureMX does not bounce emails but filters during SMTP conversion, so there is no need to deliver suspect email to a spam inbox to be filtered.

The product promises to extend the life of mail servers and networks, as a result of decreased traffic, and reduce archiving costs.

It could also allow technical staff to be reassigned to more strategic tasks, rather than spending their time defending systems from attack and inundation by spam.

SMX, which is only two years old, was founded Ball and Thom Hooker, both former Telecom employees.

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