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April 29, 2009

Clearswift chief targets growth with new proposition

Secure message enablement, not filterware is future focus

By CBR Staff Writer

Content security software house, Clearswift has said it increased sales by 21% in its latest quarter, compared with the year-ago period.

Although the privately-held company does not formerly release figures, Richard Turner, CEO at the UK business told us the 200-strong business now has a turnover of around £25 million. 

He said he has ambitions to grow the business despite the downturn, and has set an aggressive target of 30% growth for the coming 12 months.

Turner is one-year into the top role at Clearswift after joining from RSA, the security division of EMC, where he was VP for EMEA, and said he had been brought on to “bring a strong commercial focus to a great technology portfolio.”

In the past 12 months he explained the company had met with success in the market with its content security software being deployed as a soft appliance, and delivered on a VMware platform as a virtualised image. Virtual deployment of web and email content security, anti-virus and data leakage protection lowers the cost of ownership considerably, he said.

He suggested his vision for Clearswift in 2009 and beyond would be different from how the vendor has positioned itself previously. 

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“The past focus on the enterprise boundary and security systems that kept everything on the outside out because it is potentially bad is no longer relevant. There is no longer a business case to be made around that sort of threat prevention.” 

Turner believes there is a much stronger proposition to be built around collaboration and enablement of secure messaging. 

“Spam prevention is necessary, but there is very low business value in the process. Our technology is about being able to create and share policies for the sharing of sensitive content and securing credit card details, customer data, company IP and the like that need to be passed around in messages.”

Since 1982, the vendor has provided internet content filtering, but going forward it appears it will be positioning itself as a business communications specialist.

Turner said, “We understand how web content and email content comes into an organisation, and how it flows around and out. Our technology deconstructs that content so that policies can be set against it to control how it is used or shared. A new focus for the company is content enablement and how to liberate shared information so that it can start to flow, rather than limit it, as businesses did in the past.”

Security continues to be part of that agenda, and Clearswift sees it imperative that businesses and public sector organisations are adequately protecting data.

There has been much written lately about employers’ concerns regarding disgruntled ex-employees stealing confidential company data after being made redundant. With the unemployment figures topping 2 million and redundancy rates soaring, securing a company’s intellectual property (IP) and reputation is becoming a critical factor whilst riding out the affects of the recession. 

The company is part of a market segment dominated by the likes of McAfee and Symantec, and Turner believes his specialist company can hold its own in a sector that is moving towards proving a full suite of security products. 

“Suites are not the future. Key parts do need to be integrated but threats are evolving in such a dynamic fashion that being a specialist in this sector is an advantage. Look at how quickly Web 2.0 security has become a key issue. Web 2.0 has opportunities and it has risks, and we believe business should be focusing on enabling the vehicle and containing the risk, not blocking and stopping access.”

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