RealTime IT News

Metavize 'Untangles' Threat Management for SMBs

Unified threat management (UTM) software vendor Untangle, known as Metavize until this morning, is allowing companies with 10 employees or less to use its applications free of charge.

That market represents less than 5 percent of its customer base, but the company is also slashing its prices for companies with up to 30 employees by up to 40 percent, according to Raul Mujica, vice president of marketing for Untangle.

Mujica told internetnews.com that the company hopes to generate good word of mouth among larger companies for its applications.

"We think that CEOs of small companies have relationships with CEOs of larger companies," he said.

True UTM seeks to cover as many security bases as possible to shore up corporate defenses.

Accordingly, Untangle's Security Bundle suite includes a spam blocker, Web content control features, a remote access portal, VPN capabilities, a virus blocker, an intrusion prevention system and an attack shield.

Mujica explained that Untangle differentiates itself in the small and medium business (SMB) market in the way it packages and prices its applications.

In particular, Untangle lets SMBs with small to non-existent IT staffs unify several functions on a single box.

"Open source requires a sophisticated IT staff. Appliance vendors offer a simpler solution but you can generally only get one or two applications on a server. If you need a new phishing application, you need to add another box, and that adds complexity," Mujica said.

Untangle and other vendors targeting the SMB market are facing an uphill battle, however.

According to Gartner analyst Joslyn Faust, SMBs tend to rank security as high priorities when answering survey questions, but do not want to spend money unless they can identify a definite return on their investment.

The one opportunity those vendors do have, she said, is in network administration, where SMBs are finding it difficult to find and retain talent.

"It would behoove vendors to start to wrap in managing the network as part of their applications because that's where SMBs feel they have a need," Faust told internetnews.com.

In addition to generating word of mouth, Mujica said the company decided to make its application free to a portion of its customer base because it uses a lot of open source code and wanted to find a way to give back to the community.

He said the company was also inspired by examples from larger companies who are giving away their software.

We are "learning from the success of AOL's free Instant Messenger and Adobe's free Acrobat Reader," he said.

Mujica was a general manager at AOL before joining Untangle.

Another recent recruit to Untangle's management team is CEO Bob Walters, formerly the president and CEO of Web application firewall vendor Teros.

The company announced that it has raised $10.5 million to fund further staff expansion and marketing expenses.

Security Bundle is available as a download, on a CD, or pre-loaded on a server.

Security Bundle costs $75 per month for companies with 11 to 30 users, and $195 per month for companies with more than 30 users.

These are complete prices with no per-user fees added.