Symantec delays virtual security appliance

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Symantec delays virtual security appliance

Symantec has delayed the launch of its Virtual Security Appliance for Intel's vPro enterprise desktop platform.

The security vendor was originally scheduled to release the appliance next month, but will now push back the release to mid-2008, Gary Sabala, senior product manager for virtual security solutions at Symantec, told

Sabala attributed the decision to delay the software to feedback from beta customers and a desire for better support for open source technologies.

"One of our goals for the next version is to move to more open source components that we integrate into our solution," he said.

In a reference to Windows CE, which currently runs all vPro management appliances, Sabala added that the move will "ease our ability to work around some of the licensing issues for third-party components".

VPro is Intel's enterprise PC platform that uses virtualisation to allow for a single management appliance. The appliance runs independently from the system's main operating system and can apply software updates, for instance.

Symantec's appliance will run security software in an isolated virtual compartment, preventing malware and the user from tampering with the software.

As previously reported, Intel plans to launch the second version of vPro, codenamed Weybridge, on 27 August. Symantec originally aimed at launching its appliance, codenamed Project Hood, at the same time as the vPro upgrade.

Intel is also working with Red Hat on a future upgrade scheduled for release in 2008.

The virtualisation in Weybridge relies on proprietary technology that supports one virtual management appliance, such as Symantec's Virtual Security Appliance. The appliances are required to run Windows CE.

Intel and Red Hat aim to build a vPro version based on the open source Xen hypervisor that will allow for multiple management consoles and support Windows and Linux.

Sabala declined to elaborate on the discussions on Windows CE licensing, adding that vendors are still trying to come to grips with virtualisation.

"Virtualisation, especially at the desktop, is still very much at an evolutionary stage. We are still in discussions with Microsoft about how we want to support Symantec and its components in this new environment," he said.

The delay also offers Symantec some breathing space to further enhance its product. Feedback from beta customers pointed out that the appliance was lacking a robust management console, for instance.

This could undermine the value of Intel's vPro platform. Lenovo is currently the only software vendor shipping a vPro appliance.

An Intel spokesperson declined to comment on the effect that the Symantec delay will have on vPro, but said that the company will continue to work with software vendors to build out the platform's features.
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