Rik Turner talks Web filtering and acquisitions with Gene Hodges, CEO of Websense.
He is still somewhat constrained by what he can say about SurfControl, the Web filtering rival he is in the process of acquiring, but Gene Hodges, CEO of the market leader in that space, Websense, talks readily about his vision of 'converged content security'. That, he says, is the place his company is going, with data leakage an integral piece of the puzzle since he acquired PortAuthority in December last year.
Q Between Websense and SurfControl, you will be the dominant player in Web filtering, right?
A IDC gave us 28% of the market in 2006 and SurfControl 23%. Then there are layers such as Secure Computing, who got the Webwasher product as part of the acquisition of CyberGuard. Blue Coat's also in the space, and, of course, all this is only the market for premise-based products. Then there are the e-mail filtering service vendors who have extended into Web, such as Postini, who OEMs the ScanSafe product for its web service, and Message-Labs, which has its own technology.
Q And,of course, you are picking up the Black-Spider mail filtering service as part of the SurfControl deal...
A Yes, and it was an important piece of the overall deal, now that MessageLabs is starting to go more into the SMB market. Before coming to Websense I was at McAfee [for 11 years until January 2006], and there we built a $500m ASP business, and by ASP I mean based on a standard product, rather than MSP, which tends to be more bespoke.
Q So Websense's core technology can and will be delivered as a service?
A A service offering's fine for URL checking, but content checking needs some on-premises kit.
Q A database of rogue URLs is something of a commodity these days, of course...
A I am not sure it has not always been. Anyway, in the English-speaking world, people are buying us not for our URL database but for our knowledge of malware. What enables us to continue charging our high price is our ability to do content-driven classification of attack applications.
We really have two sets of technology: one scans the Internet and maps the content of sites, but not the links, or we would be Google; the other scans and identifies malware so as to classify applications. We are seeing about two million unique pieces of code on the Net.
Q How does the data leakage prevention (DLP) technology fit in?
A Right now the hot new thing is reputation for websites to guard against phishing attacks, identifying the problem before it hits you. Next will be the prevention of information leaks via e-mail. The brute force approach entails scanning for key-words, which is how the likes of Clearswift and MessageLabs do it. For us, it is about deeper content analysis.
Q And can that be delivered as a service for the SMB market?
A The structured part, yes. Unstructured is beyond the purview of communicating to SMB.
Q You have just launched your DLP offering (the Websense Content Protection Suite). So which potential competitors in DLP really concern you?
A The ones I am worried about are the Big Three in AV: Symantec, McAfee and Trend. Even the smallest of them is about $800 m in revenue, whereas we will be $295 m combined with SurfControl. Now, as big companies, they are slow-moving, but you only need the elephant to roll over on you once...
Q But the new product is more than just rebadged PortAuthority, right?
A We have added our security filtering tool, so where DLP technology has not been able to go beyond identifying the IP addresses, we bring the awareness of where, when and who.