Five mergers for a better IT security industry

Three security experts make their consolidation calls

The information security market has seen a ton of consolidation in the last couple of years, which can be a nightmare for IT shops trying to keep track of who really owns the software they're using and whom to call when the tool needs servicing. But there's another school of thought that such consolidation is actually making the security industry a less aggravating place. After all, the market has become saturated with so many vendors it can be difficult determining who sells what your enterprise truly needs to tackle a given malware or compliance issue. Besides, most IT shops would rather see security baked into the larger IT infrastructure provided by the likes of Microsoft, Cisco and others than spend money on a growing array of bolt-on devices. With that in mind, CSO online conducted an unscientific poll, asking security pros about five security mergers they would like to see. Respondents suggested the big IT providers like Microsoft, IBM and Cisco go in search of more security acquisitions to further integrate digital defenses into the pipeline. Others want to see bigger security vendors like Symantec and McAfee buy up smaller companies that have features they currently lack. We narrowed it down to three top-five lists submitted by three security industry leaders: Lawrence Pingree, a San Francisco-based security pro with ties to McAfee, BuddyFetch and the Digital Forensics Association (DFA); Richard Stiennon, chief research analyst at IT-Harvest; and Mike Rothman, keeper of the Security Incite blog and senior vice president of strategy at elQnetworks.

Top five mergers wished for by Lawrence Pingree: 1. McAfee bought by Microsoft 2. Sourcefire absorbed by Symantec 3. Imperva bought by Checkpoint 4. Palo Alto Networks bought by RSA 5. Sophos bought by IBM

Pingree explains his choices saying that despite acquiring several security vendors in recent years, Microsoft still needs to bolster its security portfolio and still can't get there without more acquisition activity.

"They need something besides the Microsoft brand name to gain in the security space. A McAfee purchase would do well for them," he says.

"Symantec lacks a good IDS/IPS and security scanning product, and a Sourcefire purchase would make Symantec appear focused on security again. They would also do well buying Rapid7 to pick up vulnerability management, another hole in their portfolio."

Pingree's Imperva/Checkpoint idea is driven by the fact that Checkpoint's aim is to own the firewall market. Imperva is taking names due to PCI and would help solidify Checkpoint's game plan to own the firewall space, he says.

"RSA lacks a good IDS/IPS product and needs to work to maintain its market share. I'm thinking that RSA still has the encryption brand name and would do well to start to market that they are a broader security play."

IBM, meanwhile, is trying to be the service and software shop all-in-one, so adding Sophos to its portfolio would allow it better traction in the endpoint market, further extending its endpoint and server ownership strategy, he says.

Top 5 mergers wished for by Richard Stiennon:

1. Reflex Security and RSA

2. Juniper and Fortinet

3. Kaspersky, Eset, AVG, Panda, and AhnLabs (for an uber-AV company)

4. Crossbeam and StoneSoft

5. AlgoSec and Cisco

Stiennon say Reflex has become a virtualisation security company.

"They are all about the datacentre. EMC, a big datacentre provider with a desire to push into security, could take Reflex's product and provide it to their customers," he says.

"Juniper does not have a good UTM story and zero security research. Fortinet is bigger today than Netscreen was when Juniper bought them. By buying Fortinet, Juniper would finally have a security story."

There is a confusing number of AV companies usually with a regional strength and revenue near US$100 million, he says. A combination of several good AV companies would give Symantec, McAfee, and Trend Micro a challenge.

"Stonesoft has perfected the software firewall but does not have a strong appliance play. Crossbeam has been blindsided by Checkpoint's acquisition of Nokia's appliance business. Crossbeam plus Stonesoft would be a Nokia-plus-Checkpoint killer."

Stiennon says despite years of trying Cisco has never grown past CLI (command line interface).

"Algosec is a stand-alone firewall policy management company with a great product that already works with Cisco's firewalls. It's a natural acquisition."

Top 5 mergers wished for by Mike Rothman:

1. HP and a Big AV vendor TBD

2. Cisco and Fortinet

3. Oracle and Imperva (or Guardium)

4. Symantec and GuardianEdge (or CREDANT)

5. IBM and Fortify

Rothman says HP needs to get a bigger presence in the security space.

"There have been rumours of an HP/Symantec deal for years, but that's probably too big a pill to swallow. McAfee is a good fit, but it would also be a big deal. More likely is someone like Trend or Sophos, which are big enough to make a difference, but not so big to be challenging to integrate," he says.

"The branch office UTM device has been and will continue to bring on more and more functionality, presenting a threat to Cisco's huge edge router business. Buying Fortinet would eliminate that threat for Cisco."

Oracle, he says, has maintained for a long time that they do database security, but they need some coverage of database security on the network.

"Imperva is interesting because of the web application firewall as well, which would be a great fit for Oracle."

Rothman says full-disk encryption is a feature of an endpoint security suite and Symantec doesn't own the technology they sell, relying on an OEM deal with GuardianEdge.

"The longer they wait, the more money it will cost (unless GuardianEdge hits the wall — always a possibility) and if they can't get a deal done, they risk alienating customers who would need to migrate to whatever they bought," he says.

"Clearly application security tools are not a long-term standalone market. These capabilities need to be built into the development environments that engineers use to build the applications that run our businesses. That means IBM (the Rational Group), HP (Mercury), and Microsoft are logical buyers here. Also management specialists like CA and BMC are likely buyers. Fortify is the market leader, but there are plenty of other companies playing in this space."

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags securitymergers

Show Comments
[]