Symantec broadens security line with acquisitions

Symantec went on a US$375 million buying spree this month in a bid to better position itself as a one-stop provider of IT security products and services. But analysts are divided on whether corporate users are really asking for such a wide breadth of technology from one security vendor or prefer best-of-breed investments.

Cupertino, Calif.-based Symantec this month announced the planned acquisitions of three companies: Riptech Inc., an Alexandria, Va.-based managed security services provider, for $145 million; Recourse Technologies Inc., a Redwood City, Calif.-based vendor of intrusion-detection software, for $135 million; and SecurityFocus Inc., a San Mateo, Calif.-based provider of a virus alert service, for $75 million.

In another deal earlier this month, Symantec bought Mountain Wave Inc. in Falls Church, Va., for $20 million. Mountain Wave develops automated attack sensing and warning software.

"All of these acquisitions are carefully targeted at addressing specific weaknesses in our portfolio," said John Schwarz, president and chief operating officer of Symantec.

The acquisitions continue the company's efforts to transform itself from a consumer-focused vendor to one that offers a variety of tools for corporate security managers. Schwarz said that more than 60 percent of the $1.1 billion in revenue that Symantec reported for its fiscal year, which ended in March, came from sales to corporate users, compared with about 30 percent two years ago.

Pete Lindstrom, an analyst at Hurwitz Group Inc. in Framingham, Mass., said the acquisitions would make Symantec one of the few IT security vendors to offer such a wide range of corporate tools.

Such one-stop shopping capabilities are crucial for users, according to Lindstrom. "What this does is to elevate the buying decision around securing an enterprise, as opposed to considering individual products," he said.

But Michael Rasmussen, an analyst at Giga Information Group Inc. in Cambridge, Mass., said there's little evidence to show that users want all their security products from one vendor.

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