Bangalore/New Delhi: In one of its latest attempts to increase its share among business users, Microsoft Corp. is launching a security software in India aimed at grabbing a place on company networks, going up against similar products being offered by established vendors such as Cisco Systems Inc., Symantec Corp. and McAfee Inc.
According to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), a consulting firm, the market in India for computer security products is in excess of $500 million (Rs2,050 crore), and is growing at 30-35% every year. “With Microsoft also entering this space, this market is likely to touch the $1 billion mark by 2010,” said Sivarama Krishnan, executive director, PwC.
Traditionally, Microsoft has depended upon the likes of Symantec and McAfee for securing computer running on its Windows platform, “but it has now realized the need to do that itself, without relying on anybody else,” said Satish Warrier, general manager of information securities at Mumbai-based Godrej Industries. Moreover, Windows Vista now comes bundled with robust anti-virus software from Microsoft, which “may eliminate the need to depend on any external security software”, said Warrier, who was the chief information security officer at IDBI Bank in his earlier job.
But the Microsoft software, branded Forefront, will not work on Linux, meaning companies such as Canara Bank and IDBI Bank that run their applications on the ‘open-source’ operating system, will not be target customers.
“We are starting out with the Windows environment and this is not something you would load on a Linux server, or any other web server,” said Douglas Hauger, chief operating officer for Microsoft India in an interview.
The new security product from Microsoft came through an acquisition in 2005, when the company gobbled Sybari Software. Forefront client security is aimed at helping enterprises combat the threats of spyware and viruses by offering a combined product, which can be effectively deployed across servers and desktops. Microsoft thinks it will have an edge with this strategy “as there is no player who is able to play across the entire space all the way from the edge to the client,” said Tim Sinclair, general manager of Windows enterprise management, Microsoft.
Forefront may not affect the established vendors in the areas of network and device-based products but it “will impact the fortunes of Symantec in the areas of anti-virus, personal firewall and spam filtering—the segments where Microsoft is dominant,” said Krishnan at PwC.
Microsoft also plans to integrate Forefront with another new software for managing information technology infrastructure called System Center, which “offers one integrated product in terms of security solution sitting on top of unified infrastructure management,” said Hauger.
He expects many of Microsoft’s customers to buy the new software by paying a small licence upgrade fee, and not pay heavily for another security product. The company “will be selling Forefront on a subscription basis and not charge an upfront licence fee like most other vendors,” said Hauger. On a client basis, it will be roughly $20 annually per seat, and for server and client console, it is priced at $2,500 annually.