Juniper, Symantec join forces to fight security threats

Juniper, Symantec join forces to fight security threats

Juniper Networks and Symantec have agreed to form a broad strategic partnership that includes product development in the areas of unified threat management, intrusion-protection systems and endpoint compliance.

The partnership was announced last week by Scott Kriens, chairman and CEO of Juniper, and John Thompson, Symantec's chair and CEO. While the two executives skirted the question of how they would immediately tackle the existing problem of product overlap, they emphasised that the partnership calls for Juniper to take the lead in building hardware appliances, with Symantec providing software-based content-filtering, including antivirus and antispam protections.

"Customer hardware development was not our forte," noted Thompson. "We'll let Juniper focus on custom-hardware design."

A few months ago a leaked internal memo made it known that Symantec, which sells the Symantec Gateway Security (SGS) line of multipurpose security hardware appliances, wanted to exit the hardware business and would likely partner with other firms with hardware expertise.

The announcement makes clear that Juniper Networks is to be that partner, and both firms said their long-term goal is to jointly develop a UTM device.

UTM is a term coined by research firm IDC to describe a multipurpose gateway security device that includes a firewall, intrusion-protection, antivirus filtering plus other security protections.

With the announcement, Thompson put the nail in the SGS product line's coffin, at least as it exists today. "We will rely on our partner Juniper to deliver that hardware capability," he said.

In the area of network-access control, the firms stated they would support the Trusted Network Group's Trusted Network Connect specifications for connecting endpoints to the network.

Juniper's Kriens emphasized that the interaction between Symantec and Juniper, which will partner in the engineering realm and in security threat analysis, will work to the advantage of Juniper customers, particularly service providers. Kriens said Juniper and Symantec will work closely to develop products suited for providing managed security services.

Juniper and Symantec already work together, with Symantec providing Juniper with antispam technology. While both now are focusing on a more strategic relationship, the companies said it will be "nonexclusive," not excluding vendor partnerships either may have at present.

ChannelWorx managing director, Scott Lidgett said it was too early in the piece for him to comment on how the deal will affect the Juniper distribution in Australia.

Ross Cochrane, managing director of Symantec distributor Express Data said there was already an alternative product in the market, from Cisco, to what Juniper/Symantec will sell. "It is not unique. Other people are already doing it."

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