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Cisco Buys IronPort

Cisco today turned its security strategy in a new, application-oriented direction, acquiring messaging security vendor IronPort Systems for $830 million in cash and stock.

IronPort, a five-year-old, privately held company, makes appliances for Web security and management, but it is best known for its email security appliances, which help filter spam and detect malware in large and small enterprises as well as Internet service providers. Eight of the top 10 ISPs, as well as large enterprises such as JetBlue Airways, are IronPort users.

The move is something of a departure for Cisco, which has acquired many security vendors over the years but has generally kept those acquisitions focused on targets that operate at the network level. Experts say today's move could indicate that the company is shifting its considerable weight toward a broader role in the security industry, just as software giant Microsoft has done.

"If I were a security vendor, I would be kind of nervous," says Rob Enderle, president and founder of Enderle Group, an IT consultancy.

Cisco called the acquisition a "natural extension" of its security portfolio, which includes threat mitigation, policy control, and security management. The company plans to integrate the IronPort technology into its Self-Defending Network framework, according to Richard Palmer, senior vice president of Cisco's Security Technology Group.

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