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Cisco Gets 2 for 1 with IronPort Acquisition

Cisco Systems tapped into two robust markets???anti-spam and messaging compliance???with today's $830 million acquisition of IronPort. IronPort makes appliances to block spam, e-mail-borne viruses, and spyware at an organization's perimeter. On the spam front it uses a variety of detection methods, including reputation-based filtering. It bundles Sophos Anti-virus technology to detect viruses embedded in e-mail. It offers a separate appliance to block spyware.

The acquisition also gives Cisco a leg up into the messaging compliance market. In November 2006 IronPort acquired PostX to provide outbound encryption of corporate e-mail. IronPort also has filters to scan outgoing e-mail for sensitive medical or financial information and take appropriate action, such as blocking or alerting. It also includes templates for e-mail compliance with HIPAA and GLB regulations.

The messaging compliance angle is the most interesting part of this deal. Why? The anti-spam market is mature, and while it will provide a steady income for Cisco, its growth has leveled off. By contrast, compliance is driving a whole new Information Leak Prevention (ILP) industry. Regulatory compliance and privacy protection will be the top two drivers of information security, according to Ernst & Young.

The purchase may also indicate that Cisco is in the market for a broader ILP product???e-mail is just one part of a robust perimeter suite that should include HTTP, IM and other communication protocols. A host of young ILP companies will be waiting for Cisco's call.