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Microsoft in Whale of a Deal

Microsoft today bought privately held SSL VPN vendor Whale Communications for an undisclosed sum, another move to bolster enterprise network security for its customers. (See Microsoft Acquires Whale.)

Fort Lee, N.J.-based Whale, which specializes in Windows-based Secure Sockets Layer VPN hardware, is the latest security vendor to get snapped up by a big-name player, after Juniper stumped up about $4 billion in stock for NetScreen, and Citrix bought NetScaler, a startup offering a combination of SSL VPN and load balancing features. (See Juniper to Acquire NetScreen, Citrix to Buy NetScaler for $300M, and Meta Group Ranks SSL VPN Market.)

The move is also designed to support Microsoft's Network Access Protection (NAP) play at a time when the major vendors are cranking up their security strategies. Microsoft's NAP, for example, plays in the same space as Cisco's Network Admission Control (NAC) and Juniper's Enterprise Infranet initiatives, which attempt to secure corporate networks. (See Chambers Shouts About Security, Cisco, Microsoft Team Up on Security, and Juniper Infranets the Enterprise.)

But at this stage, Microsoft is yet to reveal its specific long-term plans for Whale, saying only in a statement released this morning that the platform will broaden users' access options from a variety of locations and devices. This, according to the vendor, includes PCs, Internet kiosks, and mobile devices.

Rob Whiteley, senior analyst at Forrester Research, tells Byte and Switch that the deal makes sense, citing the long-standing relationship between the two companies. "Whale has always had an SSL VPN and application firewall that's built on Windows server," he notes. "It was clear that they were going to develop a tighter relationship that was either an OEM deal or an acquisition."

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