When investment house 3i casts its eye over the future development of Internet security the market takes note.
After all 3i is a significant stakeholder in the industry and is in an interesting position to gauge trends in the market.
So it was with interest that we went along last Wednesday night to hear about 3i's white paper on e-business security, which was based on a survey conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) involving the CEOs of 25 e-security suppliers.
Some of the findings of the survey, particularly that two thirds of those esecurity companies interviewed thought the market would be owned by five brands or less in just three years, proved controversial - especially to the seven smaller firms 3i had invited to the launch.
Representatives (with only one CEO present) from 3i clients, including integrator Articon Integralis, application security firm Kavado and digital rights management vendor Sealed Media, downplayed the idea of rapid industry consolidation.
Baltimore Technologies and Network Associates tried this strategy and its been judged a failure, they opined. The view was that there may well be a shakeout in the industry, which is still immature, and a growth of dominant players in integration and services but the creation of security monoliths isn't likely, and probably wouldn't work.
Ian McKenzie, a marketing exec at integrator Vistorm, summed up the feelings of the panel when he said "when a large firm acquires a best in breed player it doesn't stay that way for long".
Far less controversially, the white paper also said the vendors surveyed are betting on authentication and administration, managed services and management tools as growth areas in the security market. Network security tools (such as firewalls) will take a lesser share of an increasing pie (IDC expect the network security market will be worth $8bn by 2003).
We say this finding was less controversial but it has to be recorded that the digital rights management people were doing a lot on the night to talk up the potential of their technology.
Financial services and telecoms are seen as the greatest potential markets for growth but 3i's white paper notes that telecoms lags behind financial services and government in security awareness, "in spite of the impact that 3G may have on the ability to access the Internet".
Russ Cummings, technology group director at 3i, said this negative view reflected the perception that although carriers internal systems are made secure, the security of services provided to the public often have their shortcomings.
Richard Barber, development manager at security provider Articon Integralis, said telcos fail to take security seriously until hit by hackers.
Telcos are more used to operating circuit-switched technology and IP skills - particularly related to security - may be lacking as service providers face unfamiliar or emerging risks, like denial of service attacks against mobile networks, he added. ®