‘SoC 3.0’: Symantec beefs up Asia-Pacific cyber security with expanded Chennai SoC

Security vendor unveils third-generation SoC

Symantec formally launched its next-generation security operations centre (SoC), expanding its decade old security SoC in Chennai, in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

Symantec has doubled the number of security staff to 140 with capacity for an additional 100.

The expanded SoC will continue in its role as part of Symantec’s global network of six SoCs providing 24x7 coverage and also, for the first time, will provided dedicated 24x7 support to Symantec’s Indian customers.

The expansion makes Chennai Symantec’s largest SoC and reinforces India’s key role in Symantec’s operations. The country is home to 2800 Symantec employees including 1500 R&D staff.

Of its six global SoCs, four are in Asia: Sydney, Tokyo, Singapore and Chennai. The others are in Reading in the UK and Herndon Virginia in the USA,

John Lionato, vice president global operations for Symantec’s cyber security services, told Computerworld that that expansion of the SoC represented the latest phase in the company’s seven-year regional investment program.

“We have tripled the Sydney SoC, tripled the Tokyo SoC, built the Singapore SoC and now doubled the Chennai SoC,” Lionato said.

Lionato estimated the additional capacity in the expanded SoC would likely be taken up within two or three years. “The market is creating more demand for us,” he said. “We try and build in capacity for 20 to 50 per cent growth depending on the area.

“The market is creating more demand for us. We are also able to improve productivity by about 11 per cent per year, and that helps us cover the growth.”

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Peter Sparkes, Symantec’s senior director for cyber security services in APJ, said the company’s  Sydney SoC would soon be at maximum capacity. The current centre, opened in August 2014, was double the capacity of its predecessor.

Marc Andrews, Symantec’s head of global sales, told Computerworld that the company had additional space in its Chennai facility that could be converted to a SoC quite rapidly and the real limit to growth was talent acquisition. “The war for talent is extreme,” he said.

“There are just not enough people around to cope with the deluge of attacks. That is one reason the expansion makes sense for us. We are able to provide some automation around tracking and investigate that customers cannot afford, or cannot find talent for.”

Lionato said the decision to expand the Chennai SoC and been driven by availability of talent and by India’s digitisation, which has created a target-rich environment and a new demand for cyber security services.

“We looked at the Indian market and the alternatives we saw were not wonderful from a service perspective,” he said. “We realised with the birth of the Bharti Airtel partnership we could deliver a lot more. And Indian companies needed it. They were under siege: they were not getting a lot of help.”

In August 2017 Bharti Airtel – which at the time was India’s largest telecommunications services provider -- and Symantec formed a partnership to provide cyber security services to businesses in India. Under the terms of the agreement, Airtel became the exclusive cyber security services partner for Symantec in India and a distributor of Symantec’s enterprise security software.

A portion of the 140 staff in the centre will be dedicated to the Airtel partnership.

Credit: Stuart Corner

Andrews told Computerworld that the role played by large Indian IT outsourcing companies in supporting massive digital transformations for major global companies also provided significant new business opportunities for Symantec.

“Having a local presence is a good way to capture that business,” he said. “We have a model where we provide them with source feeds from our SoC, and they contract directly with us as customers.

“They also buy our Deep Site intelligence feed, the biggest civilian source of cyber intelligence in the world.”

The new SoC has been dubbed SoC 3.0, representing the third generation of Symantec SoCs, but Samir Kapuria, general manager cyber security services at Symantec, said there would be no SoC 4.0.

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“SoC 1.0, SoC 2.0 and SoC 3.0 represented a waterfall model of evolution. We have now moved to an agile model of continuous development. The pace of attack development is so great that we cannot afford to wait.”

The author attended the opening of Symantec’s new Chennai SoC as a guest of the company.

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