Telcos coy on Brightmail buy

Xtra and TelstraClear aren't saying too much about what Symantec's planned acquisition of spam specialist Brightmail will mean to them as customers, but vendors and analysts tend to see positives in the deal.

Xtra and TelstraClear aren’t saying too much about what Symantec’s planned acquisition of spam specialist Brightmail will mean to them as customers, but vendors and analysts tend to see positives in the deal.

Security product specialist Symantec announced on May 20 that it was buying Brightmail, of which it already owned 11%.

TelstraClear spokesman Mathew Bolland calls the takeover “business as usual”.

“We bought what we thought was the best spam filter in the world for our customers before anyone else and we look forward to it continuing to deliver, regardless of who owns it.”

An Xtra spokesman noted that “the union of these two internet security providers makes sense, as fighting both spam and viruses is closely related”. He says Xtra has been impressed by the product’s ability to offer real-time spam management and “maintain effectiveness and avoid false positives”.

Symantec NZ country manager Richard Batchelar says while it’s early days, the deal only being announced earlier this month, “we already had spam filtering for existing Symantec customers and for Brightmail’s customers, [the filters they use] will be rolled into Symantec’s portfolio”.

Symantec began selling Norton Antispam 2004 in New Zealand last September.

The result will be better than under Brightmail, he says, “just because of the breadth and depth of our company”.

The $US370 million cash deal, still subject to regulatory approval, was given the thumbs-up by several US analysts, with one noting that “Symantec has a great distribution channel Brightmail couldn’t hope to match”, and another saying that it will make maintenance and updates easier for the installed base of common users of both companies.

The acquisition raises the question of whether Symantec will try to migrate Brightmail customers who use non-Symantec antivirus products to Symantec, but Trend Micro NZ regional manager Damian Thompson says he doesn’t see an immediate threat.

“We’re in a competitive industry and Symantec and others would like to dislodge us from our accounts; but to take a holistic view, we’re not surprised to see the acquisition, because Symantec has been missing the spam piece of content management solution for some time.”

He sees the move as validation of Trend Micro’s integrated, gateway-level approach and says Brightmail’s abandonment of plans for a share float in favour of being acquired show that anti-spam is “a piece of a bigger puzzle”.

The acquisition doesn’t make Symantec’s antivirus products any better, he says.

Some in the industry point out that some Brightmail executives, including president and chief executive Enrique Salem, are ex-Symantec and that in 2000 Symantec and Brightmail did a deal to integrate their respective products so ISPs and ASPs could use them as in combination.

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