ISS will 'let loose the dogs of war'

Chief executive believes the merger with IBM gives him the financial muscle to lay waste to the competition in the security market

IBM's $1.3bn (£688m) purchase of security specialists Internet Security Systems (ISS) will create a formidable combination that should get other security vendors seriously worried, the chief executive of ISS believes.

At a telephone press conference on Thursday, Tom Noonan, president and chief executive of ISS, spelled out the benefits of the merger for his company. High among them is the financial backing he will now get from IBM.

"The combination of IBM and ISS is about changing the game," said Noonan. "We will continue to compete with many different companies."

Noonan said the security market is currently "too fragmented" and that users want stability. But this is what makes the deal with IBM so attractive, he argued, as it will allow them to invest more to satisfy customers.

"We are going to be able to invest at a significantly higher rate than our competition," he said. "The feedback I get from the emails customers have been sending me is that they preferred us when we were a smaller company."
When asked what he thought of the competition, Noonan said: "Now we are in a position to unleash the dogs of war. It will be us against McAfee or whoever is number two in the market."

In the future, ISS will be "an integrated but independent part of IBM", Noonan said.

IBM's purchase of ISS has considerably strengthened its ability to provide complete security systems to corporations, and given it the sort of market exposure that only a very large company such as IBM can provide. Suppliers such as McAfee may well be concerned about the deal, but analysts have broadly welcomed it.

"There seems to be no stopping IBM at the moment on the acquisition trail," said analysts Ovum, The acquisition "fits in very well with IBM Global Services' strategy of going for more repeatable service revenues based on IBM product offerings," Ovum argued.

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