E-Mail Security on The Table

E-mail security vendors agreed to disagree on the outlook for the security appliance market while collectively taking aim at Microsoft’s looming entry into the anti-virus space.

During a research call hosted by the Radicati Group this week, representatives from McAfee, Postini, IronPort and Mirapoint, as well as Radicati analysts, bantered the pros and cons of Radicati’s report on ” E-mail Security: Appliances, Software and Services, 2005 – 2009.”

“From feedback from clients and customer surveys, we’ve seen a huge trend towards appliances,” Radicati analyst Teney Takahashi said. “And although software still comprises a large portion of the overall security market, we’ve seen that growth and demand for appliances has increased dramatically.”

Radicati forecast that e-mail appliance revenue will grow 331 percent by 2009, while managed services will grow 109 percent and software will grow by only 23 percent. Overall Radicati expects e-mail security revenues to hit $6.3 billion by 2009, up from a projected $3.8 billion in 2005.

Fuelling those security revenues is the continually growing volume of spam. Radicati projects there will be some 52.4 billion spam messages and 900 million viruses sent per day in 2005.

However, despite Radicati’s forecast, Kevin Woods, Mirapoint senior director of marketing and product management, said on the call that he expects e-mail security technologies to end up in firewalls sooner rather than later.

“Standalone appliance approaches are going to go by the wayside in two or three years,” Woods said. “The standalone e-mail security appliance market is going to dry up.”

The other vendors on the call didn’t particularly endorse or agree with Woods’ assessment of the future of the appliance market. The vendor did agree that e-mail security is moving into its next stage of development.

“I think it’s a case of moving up Laslo’s hierarchy, and once the company makes the pain go away from spam and viruses, they can start to examine their other e-mail security needs,” Andrew Lochart, Postini’s director of product marketing, said.

“This year is beginning to feel like the year of compliance, content, policy and external regulatory compliance, as well as internal HR compliance. Encryption will be a part of that, and what I think the audience will see and hear from all the vendors on this panel will be a focus on those emerging needs.”

The panel also discussed what message resonates most with their clients in terms of e-mail security in an era where all vendors claim high catch rates for spam and e-mail viruses.

“The message that resonates most with customers is understanding that e-mail security is more than just spam and viruses. Phishing, [directory harvest attacks], DoS, spyware are serious problems that deserve equal attention, if not more,” Rahul Abhyankar, McAfee’s senior product manager, said.

“If we look at the increasingly regulated environments that companies are doing business in, it is important to make sure that e-mail does not become a liability from the standpoint of inappropriate content. So we’re seeing customers get really serious about content filtering.”

The vendors also discussed Microsoft’s entry into the e-mail security space with its recent acquisition of Sybari. Postini’s Lochart took aim at the company as the root cause for many e-mail security issues.

“There is a perception that I think is based on the fact that a lot of the problems attributable to spam — and particularly viruses — are ones that have been inflicted on us by the Microsoft operating systems and applications to start with,” Lochart sad. “I wonder if there will continue to be a level of mistrust concerning solutions that come out of Microsoft?”

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