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SonicWall Acquires Aventail

The worlds of storage and security converge as SonicWall continues on its M&A tear

Backup and email security specialist SonicWall has bought SSL VPN appliance vendor Aventail in an all-cash transaction worth $25 million, unveiling plans to tie its storage and security closer together. (See SonicWALL Buys Aventail.)

Speaking on a conference call this morning, SonicWall CEO Matt Medeiros explained the decision to buy was customer-driven. "Our email and secure content management customers have been asking for us to deliver more robust solutions."

Aventail, unlike mid-market specialist SonicWall, focuses on the enterprise end of the SSL VPN market, and Medeiros explained that he will now deploy Aventail's authentication and endpoint control technologies on SonicWall's own 200, 2000, and 4000 SSL VPN boxes. At this point in time, there are no plans to integrate both product lines into a single device, he added.

The exec also confirmed that the Aventail management team will be moving over to SonicWall. The startup's CEO Evan Kaplan will become SonicWall's vice president of business and alliances, reporting directly to Medeiros.

Initial signs suggest that the bulk of Aventail's 175-strong workforce will also be moving over to SonicWall, which has around 500 employees, although there will be some shakeout over the next few weeks. "The net additional headcount will be 130," explained Steve Franzese, SonicWall's vice president of marketing, adding that it is yet to be decided whether the redundancies will come from within SonicWall or Aventail.

SonicWall, which made its name as a firewall vendor, has been gradually fleshing out its storage and email security story over the last few years, snapping up CDP vendor Lasso Logic and security specialist Mail Frontier last year. (See Firewall Vendor Hopes to Lasso CDP, SonicWall Lassos enKoo, SonicWall Intros CDP, SonicWall Enhances CDP, and Review: SonicWall CDP 4440i.)

With users facing turnover within their organizations, there is a growing demand from CIOs for pre-packaged security and storage offerings, according to Franzese. "There are customers looking at purchasing the entire suite," he told Byte and Switch, adding that firms are now seeking a set of technologies they can quickly deploy.

More and more vendors are looking to tie security and storage offerings together. Yesterday, for example, Symantec unveiled its "Storage United" strategy, which aims to combine data protection, storage management, and archiving. (See Symantec Launches Storage United, Symantec Unveils NetBackup 6.5, and Symantec Bolsters Backup.)

Although SonicWall has no plans to integrate its SSL VPN, firewall, email security, and CDP technologies, Franzese says the firm is already planning to add more enterprise features to its CDP portfolio in an attempt to offer a more complete suite of products in this space. The exec did not elaborate on what these enhancements are likely to consist of, adding that this is part of SonicWall's long-term roadmap.

The SonicWall CEO highlighted another storage opportunity in response to a question from an analyst on this morning's call. More than two years ago, Aventail sold off its hosted SSL VPN business to service provider MegaPath, which was subsequently acquired by Netifice. "I would hope that MegaPath would look at some of the other solutions that SonicWall offers, like CDP."

The exec also explained that he is keen to get his hands on Aventail's existing customer base, which includes big name technology users such as Target, Morgan Stanley, and IBM.

The Aventail deal is expected to close in July.

SonicWall, which is up against Microsoft, Cisco, and Juniper in the security space, as well as CDP vendors such as Symantec and IBM, also reaffirmed its second quarter revenue guidance of $45 million to $47 million dollars this morning. This move came despite what Medeiros described as "softness" in the firewall and unified threat management (UTM) market during the first quarter.

— James Rogers, Senior Editor Byte and Switch

  • Aventail Corp.
  • Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)
  • IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)
  • Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR)
  • MegaPath Networks Inc.
  • Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)
  • Morgan Stanley
  • Netifice Communications Inc.
  • SonicWall Inc. (Nasdaq: SNWL)
  • Symantec Corp. (Nasdaq: SYMC)
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