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Mid Market is the next big opportunity for WatchGuard: Scott Robertson

Yogesh Gupta | June 28, 2013
"The consolidated landscape is a massive opportunity for us as we continue to be a pure security player focused on UTM/XTM solutions"

Scott Robertson talks about how the company has kept pace with the changing times in the security industry.

CW: Your company's core focus, UTM, is a fairly commoditized technology. Considering this, how bright is WatchGuard's future?

Robertson: There are couple of things that are changing at WatchGuard which are also changing in the UTM market. Ever since its introduction in 2007, this market has been maturing at a rapid pace. In 2010, WatchGuard decided to re-architect solutions through next-generation network security appliances [XTM] in anticipation of its growing importance to the mid-market.

The XTM with one firmware spans across all hardware platforms--from lower-end models to the top-end ones. For a firewall/UTM appliance to deliver more throughput and other capabilities, we built the Intel platform with a Linux kernel. With Linux and UTM being modular in design, a new security service can be plugged in at anytime from best-in-class vendor technologies and they will be integrated into our UTM. This is unlike some vendors who build AV and Web-security in-house and integrate them to their appliances. This is a big differentiator as we are increasing our footprint in the mid-market which prefers the best security brands. The trend is shifting towards the mid-market and we are in talks with a few large enterprise vendors.

CW: Aren't you worried that companies you're seeking an alliance with could explore the UTM market independently?

Robertson: The industry has always been talking about the unpredictable nature of the security roadmap. Often, we see that technologies like wireless and security are blended together. We know that we do our job very well. Similarly, other vendors we intend to collaborate with know theirs well. So, I don't see our OEM partners jump into the firewall/UTM space and intensify competition.

CW: WatchGuard lacks full-blown DLP and authentication solutions. Why is that?

Robertson: Our technologies in XTM and XCS do offer content security. This, not only delivers spam and Web security solutions, but also provides powerful DLP capabilities. It shouldn't surprise anyone if we decide to integrate some technologies to differentiate ourselves more. We are not just a pure firewall/UTM vendor anymore. We are now a business security vendor with a range of technologies for organizations of all sizes.

CW: Don't the acquisitions of McAfee, SonicWALL, Astaro, and others by big IT companies weaken your standing in the industry?

Robertson: Most acquisitions, particularly ones by large vendors, are difficult to integrate. The acquiring company doesn't necessarily focus on the acquisition and the smaller company doesn't have any clout in the big one. It often becomes an SKU on the pricelist. We see many vendors consolidate to become a part of a large group where the dominant products are not UTM. R&D tends to become skewed towards products that generate more revenue. These acquisitions are usually successful after three to five years. Thus, the consolidated landscape is a massive opportunity for us as we continue to be a pure security player focused on UTM/XTM solutions.


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