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Novell Buys Endpoint Security Management Firm

Purchase of Senforce Technologies rounds out Novell's security management portfolio

First, Novell rebranded Senforce Technologies's endpoint security management software. Now it has purchased the security company outright.

The purchase of Senforce will help Novell further its strategy of integrating identity, systems, and security management, Novell officials say. (See ZEN for the Endpoint.)

"The convergence of identity management, systems management, and security management is not just a 'nice to have' -- it's becoming a requirement to meet corporate and government regulations," says Richard Whitehead, director of product marketing at Novell, which also sells security management tools for patch, identity, asset, and access management. "We believe adding Senforce helps round out that capability."

Novell won't disclose the value of the acquisition nor the number of employees from Senforce that will join Novell, but Whitehead says the majority will become part of Novell, including the "entire engineering staff" at Senforce.

The two companies began working together earlier this year under an OEM arrangement where Novell sold Senforce's Endpoint Security Suite 3.5 under the ZENworks Endpoint Security Management label, which it rolled out in June.

In a previous interview, Tim Cranny, senior security architect for Senforce, described the software as a "bodyguard" for the endpoint, actively enforcing security policies and automatically adjusting security controls based on a user's physical location as well, addressing the risks associated with mobile users traveling outside the firewall.

Novell's Whitehead says his company decided to purchase Senforce after seeing synergies with Senforce's technology and Novell's product family. "So having the technology become part of Novell, we are able to do more with integrating the product and expanding it into some of our identity management solutions."

Natalie Lambert, senior analyst for client security and client management at Forrester Research, says users want their next-generation client management products to come with security management as well. "Security is operationalizing," Lambert says. "Big management vendors are looking to bring this technology in-house to offer that comprehensive view of the environment."

Meanwhile, the first fruits of the acquisition will come "very shortly," Novell's Whitehead says, when Novell releases its ZENworks Configuration Management software, which is currently in beta. "It will include components of Senforce's endpoint products," including wireless security and USB lockdown.

Whitehead says Novell's big competitors here are Microsoft and Symantec, which earlier this year acquired endpoint security firm Altiris. But Novell's identity management capabilities differentiate it from its competitors, he says.

But Novell is also missing anti-malware technology, notes Mike Rothman, president and principal analyst at Security Incite.

"The big hole for Novell right now is AV and anti-spyware. Customers want one agent that can do pretty much everything endpoint security-related," Rothman says. "The good news for Novell is that there are a lot of companies that do AV and anti-spyware, so if/when they decide to add that to the offering, they'll have a lot to choose from. Will an enterprise customer get their endpoint security from Novell? That's a different question. But they are assembling a lot of the pieces."

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  • Novell Inc. (Nasdaq: NOVL)
  • Senforce Technologies Inc.
  • Forrester Research Inc.
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