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Storage-security mergers lose steam

Cracks are appearing in the vision of integrating storage with security.

The promise of integration between storage and security products appears to be running out of steam this week as Network Appliance Inc. (NetApp) and Symantec Corp. fail to convince users of how they will bridge these technologies together.

During its earnings call this week, NetApp admitted that sales of its Decru Inc. storage encryption appliance had been slow, making up for less than 1% of the company's $483.1 million in revenue for the quarter. NetApp picked up storage encryption vendor Decru for $272 million in June.

"The deployment planning is protracted," said NetApp CEO Dan Warmenhoven. "They [customers] take their time to decide where in their infrastructure they want our products."

Reading between the lines, NetApp probably didn't do a good enough job articulating to customers how its security and storage products come together.

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Symantec kicked off this craze to bring storage and security together with the acquisition of Veritas for $13 billion last December and more recently, EMC Corp. has made moves toward adding security features across its product line.

Integration challenges

Symantec said that the merger with Veritas would combine data security with data protection in areas such as regulatory compliance and e-mail management. Company executives highlighted high-profile identity thefts, such as the 40 million cardholder profiles stolen from MasterCard as evidence that the marketplace needed a combined storage and security company.

A year later, there's been no clear roadmap for product integration, and Symantec is in trouble.

Since the deal was announced, the company's stock has plummeted and chief financial officer Greg Myers has announced his retirement at the end of the year. Symantec's former chief operating officer John Schwarz also resigned recently. At such an early stage in the integration process, does this add more risk to the merger's chances of success?

Meanwhile, NetApp isn't even attempting to integrate Decru. The company made it clear that Decru's DataFort storage encryption appliance will not be integrated into NetApp's filers.

"We're not going to be integrating too deeply," said Suresh Vasudevan, general manager of the Decru business unit in a recent interview with "We have the firm intention to manage Decru as an independent business unit, and we're focused on driving Decru as the storage security standard."

EMC, meanwhile, devoted a good portion of its analyst day in August telling Wall Street that it will incorporate security functionality throughout its product line. However, the company has barely mentioned it since.

The idea behind integrating storage and security is to simplify the purchasing process and to bring technologies together to make the IT infrastructure easier to manage. Right now, users are scarcely getting half the promise. They might have one throat to choke in the buying cycle, but without product integration, managing day-to-day IT operations continues to be the greatest challenge.

So far, none of the storage companies have made a convincing case for integrating security. In the meantime, other areas of IT are jumping at the chance. Oracle Corp. just acquired identity management companies Thor Technologies and OctetString Inc. to compete against rivals such as Computer Associates International Inc., IBM and Sun Microsystems Inc. in the market for ID management security software.

Security is extremely important for IT, hopefully someone will get it right.

Word has it security vendor SonicWall Inc. was expected to buy continuous data protection startup LassoLogic Inc. for under $50 million this week, but that deal has hit a wall, sources say.

SonicWall makes virtual private network gateways, antivirus software and firewalls that compete with products from Cisco Systems Inc. and Symantec. LassoLogic makes a continuous data protection appliance that provides small and midsized businesses with an alternative to tape backups. Another bandwagon jumper, or can these two companies make a go of it?

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