Trend Virus Control System - A Centralized Approach to Protection

  • Written By: P. Hayes
  • Published: December 1 1999

Product Background

Trend Virus Control System (TVCS) utilizes a web based management console, which allows for administration, configuration and policy enforcement from a central location. TVCS is an HTML based management platform that allows management of Unix, Novell Netware and Microsoft Windows NT servers, and if coupled with Trend's desktop products will allow for desktop virus management as well. The product must be coupled with one or more of the following components, such as Interscan, ScanMail, eDoctor and desktop clients such as Trend OfficeScan.

Trend's first virus products were released in 1990, two years after a former Hewlett-Packard engineer, Steve Chang, formed the company. The initial anti-virus products were focused specifically on the desktop. Trend has evolved its product line since then, and its present approach to virus protection is server-centric, using a top-down methodology. (See Diagram)

Trend manufactures a product for each component on a LAN/WAN that could be affected by a virus attack, including laptop computers, desktops and servers. The Trend Virus Control system allows for administration of these discrete components from a central point.

The anti virus market, which we size at approximately $425 million (USD) in 1999, is continuing to grow, especially as of late with fears of a Y2K eve "Hack-Fest". Trend competes with such products as Symantec, Norton, and MIMEsweeper, who all offer server based anti-virus protection, in addition to desktop anti-virus protection. Trend however, is the first anti-virus software firm to produce a cross-platform LDAP enabled, HTML management utility. However, Symantec is making a big push into the Enterprise virus protection market with the Norton AntiVirus Enterprise solution.

Product Strategy and Trajectory

Currently, Trend is a step ahead of its competitors through its offering of an LDAP enabled system coupled with HTML based administration utilities. Trend's concept of centralized anti-virus protection is sure to catch on with its competitors, however, being the first through the gates provides Trend a short-term sales advantage. Trend believes that without centralized virus protection management, your network is almost as insecure as having no protection at all. Expect Trend to stay on the leading edge of technology by improving its Graphical User Interface to further ease administration by the 4th Quarter of 2000 (Probability 90%). Expect to see Trend expand the scope of TVCS to include Mini and Mainframe systems by the 4th quarter of 2000 (Probability 85%). We also expect that Trend will move away from a proprietary Database, to a SQL Database coupled with redundancy and load balancing by the 4th Quarter of 2000 (Probability 90%). The product is priced at $3000 (USD) per 1000 users.

Product Strengths

The most appealing parts of the product are its cross-platform HTML based administration capabilities and its backward compatibility with previous revisions of anti-virus software, which allow for web based administration and control over previous Trend software releases. In addition, TVCS's built in network virus statistics allow an administrator to gauge the overall "cleanliness" of his/her LAN. Event Tracking is also included, which allows an administrator to track viruses over a period of time. The product is also fully LDAP enabled. If you are not currently using an LDAP server, but plan to implement one in the future, the product contains a clean migration path from its proprietary Database to an LDAP Directory. We found the Microsoft Windows NT based installation to be extremely intuitive, although the installation will stop and restart your Microsoft IIS during installation, so be sure to do any production testing in either an isolated environment or off-hours in production. TVCS allows a single administrator to automatically update virus pattern files for the majority of Trend's anti-virus products. The product can even be configured to notify your "on-call" individual in case of a virus outbreak on the Network.

Dan Schrader, VP of New Technology with Trend Micro states, " It (TVCS) allows clients to monitor the effectiveness of their anti-virus efforts by providing one database with all virus related incidents." Mr. Schrader further states, " It (TVCS) takes the guess work out of who is running what (anti-virus software) and how up to date it is." Richard Ku, a Product Manager with Trend Micro further added, "It (TVCS) is the only product on the market today that supports UNIX." Mr. Ku further states, "It (TVCS) embraces competitor's products and collects all information pertaining to these products, so that the network administrator can have a good overview of their anti-virus policy in the enterprise." TVCS does provide a good overview of existing anti-virus products residing on the network, although it does a better job collecting the statistics of its own products.

Product Challenges

The system requirements for the product may ward off some of the non Windows NT shops. Trend VCS must be installed on a Windows NT 4.0 Server or Workstation utilizing Microsoft's Internet Information Server (IIS). Either Netscape or Internet Explorer can be used with the browser based Administration application. Mr. Schrader states that one of the primary challenges is that " (The TVCS) Interface leaves a lot to be desired and that Trend's non-anti-virus products should also be managed from the same centralized control system."

Vendor Recommendations

The vendor should enable alternate Operating Systems such as various flavors of Unix, AS/400, Linux and Netware for the primary installation base. The web server support should be expanded to include products such as Lotus Domino, and the Apache Web Server, therefore moving away from a single-vendor, or Microsoft-only configuration. There are currently no plans to provide support for alternate web servers.

User Recommendations

If you currently have Trend Components, TVCS is a positive application from which to control your environment. However, if you have Norton, MIMEsweeper, McAffee or another 3rd party anti-virus infrastructure in place, this will not be of much use, and a great expense to replace. If you have no virus protection, or limited protection and are considering a new anti-virus software suite, make certain to include Trend in your evaluation process, especially if you need broad anti virus protection.

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