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Symantec, Veritas CEOs Talk Up Merger Vision

Thompson and Bloom work to convince customers it's the right thing to do

Symantec Corp. CEO John Thompson and Veritas Software Corp. CEO Gary Bloom have some convincing to do. They need to get shareholders on board with the planned $13.5 billion merger of the two companies and persuade customers of the greater value that lies ahead.

Their vision is of a single company that gives customers a portfolio of integrated security and storage-management products. It's a natural marriage of technologies, they say, given the increasing pressure to protect stored information. "The risks of losing data and security are creating enormous complexities and costs to the CIO," says Bloom, who joined Thompson in an interview with InformationWeek. In addition to government regulations regarding data, the executives cite growing problems of identity theft and phishing.

Veritas CEO Gary Bloom (left) and Symantec CEO John Thompson hope to get shareholder approval for the merger by May.

Veritas CEO Gary Bloom (left) and Symantec CEO John Thompson hope to get shareholder approval for the merger by May.


Photo by Eric Millette
Pending shareholder approval, which they hope to get by May, the companies first will offer "simple bundling" of Symantec and Veritas products, followed by security and storage applications that are aware of and can communicate with one another, Thompson says. The goal is to offer new, unique products that integrate both companies' technologies about nine to 15 months following the merger, he says.

One example, Thompson says, is to couple Symantec's DeepSight Threat Management System--made up of tens of thousands of sensors that watch for attacks from the Internet--with Veritas' storage-management software. DeepSight could alert Veritas software to an attempted attack, prompting more frequent data backups, automated software patches, or a change in server settings.

The merger faces skepticism. Symantec's stock, trading around $33 just before merger plans were revealed in December, dipped immediately thereafter and is hovering in the $21 range. A bigger challenge may be convincing some customers their infrastructures can handle the integrated products that would result. "It's a neat concept, but we're so many years away from that grand vision," says Chris Hoff, chief information security officer and director of enterprise security services for financial-services cooperative Western Corporate Federal Credit Union, a Symantec customer. "I don't want some software to automatically deploy a patch and blow up a good portion of my infrastructure."

Yet other customers are behind the deal. "Both of these vendors are our partners," says Bob Graham, CIO at Farmers and Merchants Bank. "This merger gives me more leverage getting access to all the information I need." Graham doesn't worry about integration issues because of the highly automated technologies offered by the companies. "They just run and run," he says.

David Jordan, chief information security and privacy officer for the county of Arlington, Va., also is a customer of both. "I like the idea of information integrity," he says. "Security is a niche; integrity takes it all in."

Bloom is convinced all customers eventually will see the light. "The alternative will be to buy technologies from four or five vendors," he says, which would include network- and system-management providers and smaller companies that specialize in helping businesses meet regulatory compliance.

--With Thomas Claburn and Martin J. Garvey

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