When SurfControl announced that it had acquired BlackSpider Technologies recently, it could have been reasonably argued that this represented just another in the ongoing, and now extensive list of security industry consolidations. Whether both companies will ultimately achieve their stated goals or not, the question remains: what makes a good acquisition?
For example, in the acquisition popularity stakes, last year’s acquisition of Veritas by Symantec was highlighted by many analysts as being significantly strong because it brought together the storage and security areas, had little in the way of mainstream product duplication, and was also seen as a complementary meeting of two well-established IT companies. Today, the picture is seen as somewhat less rosy, as industry experts suggest that Symantec should by now be focusing less on further acquisitions and new products (it too, was thought to be a possible suitor for RSA), and making a better fist of integrating the tools that it has already got.
From the company’s point of view, it can be argued that Symantec has already unified its enterprise messaging management (EMM) solution by bringing together email and instant messaging (IM) security through the acquisition and integration of Brightmail and Imlogic. However, with the more recent acquisitions of technology from Sygate, BindView, and Whole Security, the processes are ongoing. Therefore, with the advent of the unified protection approach that is being spearheaded by other mainstream competitors such as McAfee, it is suggested that Symantec customers need to see more fully integrated offerings and essentially a clear end-game strategy.
To some extent, this rather conflicts with the company’s recent announcements that it is now terminating its presence in the security appliances market. For the market watchers, too much change appears to be ongoing!
At the same time, EMC looks to be suffering from similar market doubts over its large, expensive ($2.1 billion), and arguably complex acquisition of RSA. At the follow-up industry briefing, there was a distinct lack of positive responses coming out of the analyst community with regard to what was being described as EMC’s new security division (the company formally known as RSA Security), and it is worth considering who apart from the shareholders benefit from such large, and often complex, corporate IT mergers.
There are certainly two major concerns that all companies considering going down the acquisition route need to address: does the acquisition extend and add value to the resulting entity; and can the acquisition roadmap be delivered in a reasonable timescale that keeps existing and new customers onside. With bigger, and sometimes multiple ongoing acquisitions, it is often difficult to see an end to the proceedings, and where the real customer value lies.
In this respect, the SurfControl deal, which has a cash ticket price of GBP19.95 million, brings together two established UK security players that together have the potential to operate at a global level. SurfControl has worked hard in the last 12 months to establish a greater US presence, and the BlackSpider acquisition enables the combined company to add on-demand managed security services to the overall product portfolio. Therefore, assuming that the updated product and services roadmap can be delivered simply and on time, the coming together of SurfControl and BlackSpider looks to be a good combination.
Source: OpinionWire by Butler Group (www.butlergroup.com)