RSA Conference 2007: Showcasing the proof in the concept

Besides various bits of news the SC Magazine team culled from sessions, keynotes and the exhibit floor throughout the week for our website, we also were able to follow up one-on-one with various experts to get their opinions on trends, plans and happenings. One of the most interesting conversations was with Tom Noonan, general manager of IBM Internet Security Systems.

About 90 days into this $1.3 billion acquisition, both IBM and ISS officials seem pleased. For his part, Noonan couldn't be more proud. This, in part, is because IBM has made what seems to be the right decision in allowing the long-standing ISS to stand on its own.

Noonan explained that ISS has expanded dramatically as a result of the deal and is still looking to add more pros to its engineering, customer support, research, product management and other departments around the world. This is because the acquisition has opened doors for ISS.

For the last couple months, the long-standing security player has been buried in customer activity, with new customer pipelines opening up like never before, says Noonan. "It's been a long time since we've had 50 to 60 percent of activity in new customers," he adds.

The one issue that sprung from the mega-deal is concerned customers. As a matter of fact, this and other M&A deals we've covered over the last two years prompted SC to include features on what such changes mean to the industry as a whole and customers specifically.

At the RSA Conference, Tom Noonan did as well, noting that customers are voicing concern, but it seems to be diminishing. Why? To him the answer lies where ISS stands within IBM and its drive to show customers by their actions (product integration, new hires/expansion, new product development, etc.) that they are well-rooted in the industry. The security pioneer remains independent at the operating level, so the company spends little time figuring out how IBM works. The purchase is working well for the respective companies and their customers so far this year. To him, the next five will be "epic." For now, he intends to continue setting out to ensure that every last customer, and even potential ones, find the proof of his optimism in the pros they're hiring and the products they're bringing to market. Watch for our coverage of these and other M&A developments, starting with this issue's feature, "Nice knowing you."

Illena Armstrong is SC Magazine's U.S. editor-in-chief.

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