Risk
10/9/2008
08:32 PM
George V. Hulme
George V. Hulme
Commentary
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Symantec Buys MessageLabs: SaaS Security Ready To Rock

Symantec snaps up e-mail security services, IM, and Web-filtering company MessageLabs for $695 million. It's a great fit and shows Symantec is (finally) serious about how security software will be delivered in the years to come.

Symantec snaps up e-mail security services, IM, and Web-filtering company MessageLabs for $695 million. It's a great fit and shows Symantec is (finally) serious about how security software will be delivered in the years to come.My only complaint with this acquisition is that it just took Symantec too long to make this move. Founded in 1999, MessageLabs is one of the most mature e-mail services providers, and may even be the largest in number of subscribers, and it makes a much better fit than Symantec's 2004 purchase of anti-spam vendor Brightmail. It's also a great answer to Google's acquisition of Postini.

In a story that ran earlier today, InformationWeek's Antone Gonsalves detailed Symantec's plan:

Symantec plans to integrate MessageLabs' services with its own to form a new SaaS product group for businesses. Initially, such a combination would bring together MessageLabs' online e-mail and e-mail storage, IM, and Web filtering services with Symantec's online backup, storage, and remote access products. The latter makes it possible for corporate employees to access information and applications on their office PCs from any location where there's Internet access.

Symantec expects the combined technologies to give it "a great foundation on which to grow" its SaaS product line, John W. Thompson, chairman and chief executive of the company, said in a statement.

Rounding out Symantec's current online backup and storage services with e-mail security services makes perfect sense. While most companies still shun the outsourcing of security (a trend I suspect will dramatically change next year), enterprises have embraced the outsourcing of e-mail (and the associated anti-spam, antivirus, and storage) since MessageLabs' founding almost a decade ago. And the continued success of MessageLabs and even Postini clearly proved that point, while the success of CRM vendor Salesforce.com and Qualys' vulnerability and compliance assessment services revealed the market's interest in SaaS.

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