Trend Micro joins the crowd in the cloud

The security vendor has launched an online service, joining companies such as McAfee, Symantec, Google and Microsoft that are all moving in this direction

Security vendor Trend Micro is joining the rush towards providing online security services.

Called SecureCloud, Trend Micro's online security services (OSS) platform is aimed at businesses of all sizes, said the company. The platform, launched on Monday, has security policy management from one web console, and email and web-borne threat mitigation services, the company said in a statement.

"Enterprise customers are increasingly outsourcing specific elements of their security such as email protection, freeing IT resources [for other] projects," said the Trend Micro statement. "Small businesses are struggling to cope with the many different security point solutions and prefer a single web console to manage these solutions."

The company is also selling its previously unpopular Email Reputation Services (ERS) through SecureCloud. The company's web portal allows administrators to apply a policy to a specific ISP or country to block abusive senders, as well as run a "botnet report" to monitor their own network address space for malicious activity.

ERS by Trend Micro has not previously been popular with businesses, according to senior Canalys analyst, Andy Buss. However, if Trend manages to balance services with price, the popularity of ERS could improve.

"Trend already has an online security service in its network-based anti-spam product ERS, which has not had a big uptake so far from what we can see. Trend had difficulties scaling, and it came late, going up against Postini and MessageLabs," said Buss. "Trend going forward — if it gets the right mix of service-offering and price, [the platform] could be compelling."

Buss said that another possible plus point about SecureCloud is that ERS can be purchased as part of the Security Plus pack that runs on the Trend Micro CSC blade for Cisco ASA Platforms.

Trend Micro joins the current vendor movement towards offering or acquiring for online security services, which includes McAfee, Symantec, Microsoft and Google, according to Buss.

"McAfee has been reselling Postini services for a number of years, and Postini is currently being acquired by Google, which is looking to provide security in the cloud for both business and consumer customers," said Buss. "MessageLabs is trying to position itself for sale, with the parent company Star being divested into two. An independent MessageLabs can be hawked around and sold individually."

"MessageLabs' big resellers are IBM services, and it's possible IBM may make an offer, to use the solution in conjunction with ISS. It's also possible with Microsoft moving into this space that it may look at [acquiring MessageLabs]," said Buss. "Symantec with its project Hamlet is also growing its managed online services portfolio."

Buss said that it was important to delineate online security services from software as a service (SAAS), as OSS offers security for traffic in flight, but no desktop security as users interact on the web — additional desktop security must currently be purchased for that. However, the analyst predicted that as big players such as Microsoft and Google move to offer software as a service (SAAS) online, security SAAS would become essential.

"With services like Windows Live and Google Docs the situation will have to change. Vendors will integrate security and other services — Microsoft may integrate Live and Forefront. We will see security applications augmenting online versions of software," said Buss.