Microsoft adds a fifth mega-trend: security

Washington – Cloud, Mobile, Big Data and Social Business have been listed by several high tech vendors for many years now.

Well, Kevin Turner, Microsoft’s COO added security to that list at the Worldwide Partner Conference.

“A year ago we mentioned four big trends for the partners to embrace: cloud, VDI, big data and social. I like these four trends to continue in the market, but you need to add security to it now. And, we need to have the partners lean into it,” Turner said.

He acknowledged that the market may “never have heard of security from Microsoft.”

However, the company has been quietly building a security team and a go-to-market strategy through the channel. “Security is a CEO level decision today,” Turner said.

There are more than 400 million victims of cybercrime, he added. The business opportunity is approximately $67 billion in 2014.

Tim Lawless, a senior consultant for London, Ont.-based research firm Info-Tech Research, told CDN that this amounts to another thing the channel can sell. “I can’t tell you how many times partners dismissed deploying ForeFront in the past even when it was free. They would not deploy it and it would leave a big hole especially now that Microsoft wants to expand the scope of what they cover in this any device world,” he said.

By not adding the security layer and instead ingraining it so that it does prevent back doors and leakages is a great starting point for Microsoft, Lawless added.

Turner said that Microsoft’s security approach will be about response and detection around the security development lifecycle with customer with items such as BitLocker and multi-function authentication.

“You can count on us to have a trustworthy platform that you can cross sell and up-sell. We are going to be at the top of the pyramid for you to create services offerings,” he said.

Lawless said that security has never been a natural strong point for Microsoft; not with Forefront or the rebranded System Center Protection.

“We see other vendors in the market like Intel with McAfee going outside their existing capability to secure a solid footprint in security. Microsoft is taking a different approach that you can argue has more value with its holistic security management. Today, security is piecemeal with dozens of vendors with end point, advanced malware, intrusion detection and ID and access management protection, but by building off of active directory Microsoft has a real opportunity to capture all that data on any device as it moves fluidly with customers,” Lawless said.

He believes that Microsoft may be doing security through an acquisition. Currently they bolster the security offering through partnerships with companies such as Barracuda. “That too is an add on. I’m not saying they are going to buy Symantec but what about Palo Alto Networks, who is killing it in the firewall market? Other vendors such as Intel and Dell have made similar moves,” Lawless said.

Turner added that Microsoft would work with digital crime units to help catch the buy guys with law enforcement. He also plans to allow governments to view the source code so they can see there are no back doors.

And, that will be the extent to Microsoft’s co-operation with governments, he said.

“What we will not provide governments with is unfettered access to customer data or encryption keys. We will not engineer back doors for them,” Turner added.

Microsoft, as a company, is willing to go to court if forced by governments around the world.

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Paolo Del Nibletto
Paolo Del Nibletto
Former editor of Computer Dealer News, covering Canada's IT channel community.

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