Symantec brings Big Brother appliance to market

The antivirus giant is considering a software equivalent as well.

After beta testing its Big Brother database appliance with a handful of customers, Symantec is moving ahead with plans to bring the device to market.

The Californian company is also toying with the idea of selling the appliance’s monitoring technology as a software product, according to a Symantec executive.

Big Brother is the first product to emerge from Symantec’s Advanced Concepts group, formed in early 2005 with the goal of bringing Symantec research projects to market.

Symantec had been unsure whether or not to market the project, but after a January review by executive management, the team has been told to go ahead and develop a plan to sell Big Brother, says Gerry Egan, group product manager with Symantec’s Advanced Concepts Group.

“The incubation process has reached the end of its intended time period and now we’re beginning the transition into a full-scale commercial release,” he says. “The next step for us is to commercialise this product. Along with that will come a wider beta program.”

Part of Big Brother’s commercialisation process will involve deciding whether or not to sell a software

version of Big Brother, an option that Symantec is now considering, according to Egan.

Egan could not say when Symantec plans to begin shipping Big Brother, but more details will be revealed in four to six weeks, he says. The company will be demonstrating the device at the RSA Conference 2006 conference in San Jose, California.

Big Brother has the support of Symantec chief executive officer John Thompson, who says he is “excited” about its prospects during his most recent quarterly earnings call with financial analysts.

“This technology addresses the growing need to protect sensitive data stored in databases, particularly in the area of compliance for the health care and financial service industries,” Thompson says. He referred to it as the Symantec database and audit security solution.

The appliance uses the same “sniffing” engine as Symantec’s Network 7100 Series intrusion prevention products, and is able to learn the behaviour of users and then flag any unusual or inappropriate queries. It also has reporting capabilities designed to help companies meet auditing and compliance requirements.

With companies facing increasing pressure to provide more detailed information on who has been accessing corporate data, a number of companies have begun selling products similar to Symantec’s.

They include Imperva, based in California and Maynard, and Massachusetts’ Tizor Systems.

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