Code-named Hamlet, Symantec plans to launch the product in the second quarter of this year, executives told a group of Canadian customers at CIO Engage a one-day, invite-only user conference it hosted late last month.It will contain Symantec’s flagship enterprise software tools as well as those it has gained through a series of acquisitions over the last few years. This includes technology from Sygate, which it bought two years ago, that manages the security of devices such as laptops and handhelds – often referred to as “end points” of the network that need to be protected.

Tony Brockman, a former Sygate executive who now works as Symantec’s technical product marketing manager, said IT departments are soon going to have to deal with employees who go out to buy products like a Palm Treo on their lunch hour and expect to get access to the corporate network when they return.

The range of devices entering the enterprise is going to make security policies more challenging to enforce, he said.

“These are going to become a vector of attack,” he said, holding up a standard USB drive before the audience. “I see these left behind at airports all the time and I often wonder: what’s on that thing?”

Hamlet will address this challenge by incorporating several disparate product lines that are still sold independently today, Brockman said.

Besides Sygate, Symantec also gained some endpoint management through its US$830-million acquisition last month of Altiris, whose configuration management tools also offer features around device discovery.

“You’re going to see something that will offer a more holistic approach to security,” he said. “We know that you’re tired of point solutions.”

Dave Senf, a software analyst from Toronto-based research firm IDC Canada who presented data on application trends at the Symantec event, also said enterprises were tired of tackling their security challenges in bits and pieces.

“They’ve been really bipolar about it,” he said. “They’re either buying suites or they’re doing it themselves.”

Symantec is counting on the suite approach as it focuses on five key areas, said vice-president of product marketing John Magee. These include IT operations, security management, information risk management and compliance. Endpoint security is emerging as a priority because the line between an enterprise device and a consumer device is blurring.

“People are the new perimeter,” he said. “It’s a lot more difficult to take the old lock-down-the-firewall approach. Wherever the user is, that’s where the security needs to be.”

Symantec, which regularly publishes research on trends in virus and malware attacks, also used its customer event to conduct a survey of its Canadian customers, the results of which will be made available for them to benchmark their own security practices versus those of their peers, execs said.

The company is planning to host similar events for its Canadian customers later this year in Quebec, among other locations, executives said.

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