IBM is "retiring" its range of antivirus software in favour of licensing its immune system technology and patents to Symantec. In return, Symantec will integrate its own product with the IBM technology and will be solely responsible for marketing the resulting software.
"IBM is envious of Symantec's marketing strength," said Tony Occleshaw, marketing manager for European software business at IBM. "At the same time, Symantec is envious of our technology."
The combined product will be launched by the end of the year, binding IBM's shield technology to Symantec's scanning technology, Occleshaw said.
Tony Clifford-Winters, senior analyst at Bloor Research, believes the deal makes good sense for both companies. "IBM has always tended to engineer good software - which is critical in the antivirus market - but IBM has never quite been able to brand itself in the antivirus market," he said.
"Corporates already recognise the Symantec and Norton brands," stated Gordon Eubanks, Symantec's CEO. "By working with IBM to further develop its immune system technology and incorporate it into the Norton AntiVirus product, we will be able to offer corporate customers the most comprehensive antivirus solution available."
IBM is developing neural net technology that learns about new viruses over the Web and reports back to its home system, according to Occleshaw.
"Neural net technology will help discover and fix viruses out in the field and alert the wider business community," he said.
Clifford-Winters agreed that the security market was a good application area for the system. "Neural net technology is very suitable for the security and anti-virus market," he commented. "Pattern recognition is important in detecting viruses and a task performed well by neural nets."
In a related announcement, Intel says that it will be incorporating IBM's antivirus engine technology into LANDesk Virus Protect and other Intel network management offerings that feature LANDesk Virus Protect functionality.
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