HP refreshes security with big data makeover

In Palo Alto, the vendor is making strides in a strategy around security overlooked for some time, says Stefanie Hoffman

By Stefanie Hoffman

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26 Feb 2013


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HP is placing many of its bets on security - a move that likely signals a critical, if not necessary, step in its strategic product turnaround.

And while that portends many things for the often beleaguered hardware firm, it also means an opportunity for its partners to refresh portfolios with an enterprise security services makeover, positioning them to adequately take on well-established rivals IBM, EMC, Dell. and others that have long outpaced HP in security arenas.

But while HP has a lot of balls in its court, the PC and printer manufacturer knows that securing credibility and keeping up with major rivals already leagues ahead will be no small undertaking. To give legs to its ambitions, HP is placing its security investments in big-data analytics - a move not altogether unexpected in light of the growing trend and competitive launches in the space.

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HP's new line amalgamates security information and event management (SIEM) features from HP Arcsight along with its Autonomy content analytics engine, a combination that arms the hardware firm with an ability to apply sentiment analysis and event information to big data, automatically recognising context, concepts and use patterns.

That can give customers greater insight and the ability to make more informed decisions in how they develop security strategy to meet overarching goals.

It's also an initiative that will likely pit it against competitors by broadening the reach of SIEM offerings into downstream markets in the months and years ahead. "It's a security for big data," said Varun Kohli, director of product marketing, HP enterprise security products. "It's making security intelligence actionable and taking it to the masses."

Any big data push would probably be remiss without a cloud component. To that end, HP released its ArcSight Cloud Connector, a tool that gives customers enhanced and real-time visibility by allowing them to configure the collection of application event and log data via cloud service providers.

As the third part of the launch, the hardware company weaved ArcSight ESM 6.0 into its new Hadoop Integration Utility, a tool that pares down the process of sifting through big data and more accurately nails down security threats.

This links HP's reporting, search and correlation capabilities in ArcSight with its centralised data repository from its open-source Hadoop technology. The resulting combination bulks up storage capacity and accelerates data searches with features such as statistical analysis, anomaly detection and predictive analytics.

Over the years, HP has launched countless products, but this one is significant -- for a lot of reasons.

A concerted effort around security could go a long way to right HP's ship and put it on its stated path toward a comprehensive turnaround.

Last year, plummeting income, weighed down by sinking sales of its flagship PC and printer divisions spurred chief exec Meg Whitman to pledging more attention and greater investment into new and disruptive technologies, as well as the company's software and services divisions. It had been unclear whether security would be incorporated into that.

Meanwhile, competitors saw an opportunity to take share amid HP's hesitation. In particular Dell, in much of the same predicament with flagging hardware sales and lost revenues, began betting on security.

In what many considered a radical departure from its previously mainstay PC business, the Round Rock, Texas-based hardware manufacturer began swelling its security prowess with acquisitions -- backup and recovery firm AppAssure, unified threat management firm SonicWall, network and management security services firm SecureWorks, and most recently data protection firm Credant.

While Dell is in many ways still assimilating these acquisitions, their eventual integration has already raised the company's security credibility and market standing with an end-to-end stack that gives it renewed entrance into enterprise security and service arenas.

It's an example that apparently wasn't lost on HP, which had many of the right parts for a similar move already in place. Years ago, the company appeared to be making a concerted security push with consecutive acquisitions of Fortify, TippingPoint and ArcSight - the most recent of which was in 2010.

However, comprehensive integration between its multiple security purchases never quite materialised, and its security ambitions fell behind those of competitors.

With more attention to the exponential rise of cyber security, projected by Visiongain to reach $68.34bn this year, this is not an opportunity that HP or any of its industry peers can probably afford to pass up.

Now HP appears to be taking a page out of Dell's book, weaving its security pieces into combined offerings to pick up where it left off three years ago.

If anything, the recent security launch and future investments may have, at least for now, quelled rumours that the company might spin off some of its previous security endeavours, such as ArcSight, or further divest itself of its security ties.

For the channel, that means breathing a bit more easily over the solvency of HP's security portfolio. This confidence should empower them to take a few bolder steps in enterprise security arenas over the coming year.

As part of our special editorial partnership, CRN is republishing this article from Channelnomics.

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