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Product Watch: IBM Buys Database Security Firm Guardium

Big Blue plans to integrate Guardium's database activity monitoring technology into its information management software products
IBM today announced it has acquired database security vendor Guardium for an undisclosed amount.

Guardium, a Waltham, Mass.-based privately held firm, is best known for its multiplatform, real-time database activity monitoring (DAM) software. Word of the deal spread during the past few days in the wake of a report in an Israeli publication that IBM would buy the company for $225 million. IBM did not disclose financial details of the purchase in its announcement of the deal today, however.

"Guardium is a market leader in database activity monitoring and detection," said Arvind Krishna, general manager of IBM's Information Management business, in a press briefing on the announcement today. "It is installed in hundreds of sites -- 450 and counting, including five of the top five banks."

Guardium's technology looks for anomalies in data access and usage of databases and allows organizations to detect fraudulent activity. Adrian Lane, analyst and CTO for Securosis, blogged that buying Guardium makes sense for IBM because the firm has a DAM solution for mainframes that will fit well with some of IBM's own security tools. "From an architectural standpoint, integration (as opposed to just sharing data and events) will be a challenge," Lane blogged.

Meanwhile, Guardium's competitors were quick to comment that while IBM's acquisition of Guardium demonstrates how database security tools are coming of age, the buy comes with trade-offs. "IBM's acquisition of Guardium brings a major player into the data security market. However, in the long run, Big Blue will find that their purchase will not fully meet market needs. Today's enterprises are shifting away from siloed security products in favor of an integrated approach that protects more than just databases," says Shlomo Kramer, CEO at Imperva. "IBM may have just added a new product to their extensive catalog, but they've also created a major integration headache if they wish to fully meet customer demands."

Nick Selby, managing director of Trident Risk Management, says the database monitoring space has been still mostly obscure. "For customers, a buy-up within the DTM [database transaction monitoring] space should spell great news over the coming years in the form of increased quality, better-integrated server agents, and one-stop shopping -- not to mention the rapidly increasing possibility to think of database vendors as being a bigger part of a safe solution when firms move to establish enterprise-wide data security (or anti-data-loss) programs," Selby blogged today. The question is whether it will become an optional feature or a standard one, he says.

IBM says it will integrate Guardium's products within its information management software portfolio.

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