Following the path of Symantec, Microsoft and 3Com, SonicWall has become the latest security vendor to add e-mail security to its portfolio. VARs catering to the security needs of SMB customers should pay special attention.
To wit, recent research reports from vendor Trend Micro, market researcher Ferris Research and others have said that e-mail-related problems such as spam and spyware are worse than ever. They also disproportionately affect the SMB space, whose companies often lack the budgets and IT manpower to keep malware at bay.
“I get a lot of work in spam control; of all the things I do, that’s probably the most active area,” says Cameron Spitzer, proprietor of Truffula Networks, a network consultant in San Jose, Calif. “It causes network-capacity issues for small businesses, so we’re dealing with just keeping it from dragging down their systems.”
The M&A trend figures to continue as e-mail and messaging security issues move to the fore in 2006. For its part in the battle, SonicWall, which in February acquired MailFrontier for approximately $31 million in cash, intends to integrate its Secure Content Management (SCM) system and Unified Threat Management (UTM) tools with MailFrontier’s e-mail security and compliance solutions. That should also help SonicWall delve further into the midmarket.
“Secure content management is a high-growth segment with excellent potential for SonicWall and our partners,” said Matthew Medeiros, president and CEO of SonicWall, in a statement. “Our partners are adamant that they need a powerful, simple solution that can be integrated into a broader secure network.”
Symantec recently made a deal of its own, agreeing to purchase Relicore, which makes data-center change and configuration management solutions led by its flagship product, Relicore Clarity. Symantec plans to use Relicore’s tools to build an integrated solution for standardized, simplified data-center management. The company—which in January bolstered its messaging security capabilities with the acquisition of IMLogic—was to begin offering Relicore Clarity to customers and partners early this month as a standalone solution.
3Com also enhanced its security profile by purchasing an additional 2 percent interest in Huawei-3Com (H-3C), a China-based joint venture formed by 3Com and Huawei in November 2003. The uptick gives 3Com a majority stake for a cost of $28 million. Not to be forgotten, Microsoft bought antispam and antivirus vendor FrontBridge last July. That was one month after its deal to buy security vendor Sybari was completed. Microsoft also acquired antispyware ISV Giant Software in December and antivirus software vendor GeCad in 2003.
Although reseller partners of large vendors don’t typically track M&A activity until the deals result in new solutions for them to sell, these acquisitions can have significant effects on those who partner with the acquired vendor.
“As best-of-breed companies get acquired by larger ones, partners’ visibility and support within the channel programs can decline,” says Tom Shaw, president of Wide Area Management Services (WAMS) in Santa Clara, Calif. “It can be disruptive if there’s any noncontinuity between channel personnel.”