RealTime IT News

McAfee's Focus Reconnex With Data Protection

Data protection

In a move that heralds an aggressive broadening of its business strategies, McAfee (NYSE:MFE), which has offered data leak protection (DLP) technology since 2006, will push even deeper into that area following its purchase of Reconnex.

McAfee, which paid $46 million in cash for Reconnex, plans to use that company's technology to simplify and automate data protection. It will roll out products incorporating Reconnex technology within a year.

The push into DLP is "an ambitious effort by McAfee to move beyond its traditional sphere of influence" under the leadership of CEO Dave Dewalt, Charles King, an analyst at Pund-IT, told InternetNews.com. He described DeWalt, formerly vice president at storage giant EMC (NYSE: EMC), as a "very ambitious, capable, bright guy with an eye for innovation."

That move is necessary because pure-play security software vendors such as Symantec (NASDAQ: SYMC) and McAfee are being squeezed by Windows Vista, which incorporates "a lot of the security functionality that used to be their sole territory," King explained.

Once Vista was launched, it became "critical" for security software vendors to "move out into areas that intersect with security but broaden their reach into other parts of the enterprise," King said. Data protection is "a natural extension of that," he added.

DLP is essential for both compliance and e-discovery , and offers huge opportunities for growth. Both McAfee and archrival Symantec (NASDAQ: SYMC), which bought DLP specialist Vontu in June 2007, play in this space.

The Reconnex technology can not only index data that exists within an enterprise but also can map where that data has gone, according to Pund-IT's King. This means it can be used for e-discovery.

E-discovery is a vital part of compliance and has become an increasingly lucrative business since the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which are U.S. federal district court procedures for civil suits, were amended December 2007. Several major vendors, including IBM, (NYSE: IBM) are strengthening their offerings in this area.

Reconnex will be rolled up into McAfee's Data Protection Unit, which offers full disk encryption through McAfee Endpoint Encryption. "Having endpoint data leak protection technology alone is not sufficient to provide the maximum coverage for data leaks, and Reconnex had a unique value proposition with unique architecture complementary to our portfolio," Mike Siegel, McAfee’s director of product management, told InternetNews.com.

"We are going to grow the Reconnex business and work very hard at integrating it not only with our host data leak protection technology but also with our ePolicy Orchestrator (EPO)," Siegel said. The first phase of Reconnex integration with EPO is scheduled for completion within six months, and "in early 2009 we'll have full integration," Siegel added.

EPO is the central management console for "over a dozen McAfee solutions," and "we have a very successful formula here, which we believe is repeatable -- integrating technologies quickly with EPO and providing the maximum value to customers," Siegel said.

[cob:Special_Report]That's easier said than done, Symantec senior director of data leak protection Steve Roop, told InternetNews.com. "One of the core things you do in data leak protection is you define what sensitive data you want to protect," Roop said.

According to Roop, Reconnex and Onigma -- a DLP product McAfee purchased in October 2006 -- have different ways of defining that sensitive data. "So you have to define your data twice in completely different ways," Roop said.

Symantec's reaction is understandable. McAfee "has been moving very aggressively in the markets it plays in, and that makes Symantec nervous," Pund-IT's King said.