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Symantec Ups Stakes For User Virtualization With Acquisition

Symantec says it is acquiring nSuite, a developer of connection broker technology aimed at delivering applications to users regardless of their computing device while maintaining a consistent look and feel.

Symantec is expanding its endpoint virtualization portfolio with the proposed acquisition of nSuite Technologies.

nSuite, a privately-held virtual workspace management company, develops connection broker technology, which is used to dynamically allocate traditional and virtual computing resources like information, user profiles, and applications to the endpoint regardless of device. This technology allows users to view and interact with applications running remotely on a server, said Brad Rowland, director of enterprise marketing for Symantec's Endpoint Virtualization Group.

Terms of the acquisition, expected to close later this month, were not unveiled.

End users working in a Citrix, VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure), or other environment need to access their applications in a consistent fashion regardless of that environment, Rowland said.

"We want to enable the portability that makes sense to CIOs," he said. "And the end user wants to be productive. For the last 10 to 15 years, we have focused on the device, and on patching the device. But as users use more different devices, or work in the cloud, they don't want to be concerned about the difference between them."

Rowland said that while a user may have a rich experience running an application on a laptop at the office, nSuite will help Symantec provide the technology needed to let the user have the same experience in other environments, such as checking emails at an airport kiosk.

"The experience has to follow the user," he said. "And the underlying parts need to be managed in a consistent way."

nSuite is the latest in a string of acquisitions that Symantec has made in order to prepare for a push into non-traditional computing.

Symantec acquired Altiris in April of 2007 for $830 million, giving it a software virtualization solution that allows multiple applications including multiple versions of the same application to run on a single device without conflict, Rowland said. The Altiris technology makes applications portable, and also makes it easier for software developers to test new applications against existing applications before rolling them out, he said.

Symantec last April also acquired AppStream, a developer of technology to stream applications to users' devices in an on-demand, real-time manner, Rowland said.

With AppStream, users can click on an icon to run an application from a server without the need to download the application, Rowland said.

"Enterprise users can get applications provisioned for the user without needing to install the applications," he said. "Also, this lets users use an application license temporarily, and then return it to the pool when done. And software developers can use it to deliver applications across the Internet without users needing to download the apps."

For now, all three technologies will continue to be available as separate solutions, Rowland said. In the short term, Symantec will work to integrate the three with a unified user interface. Over time, the three will be tied into Symantec's Altiris Symantec Endpoint Management solution, he said.

Virtualization of the end user environment also fits into a wider move by Symantec to provide a wide range of virtual technologies.

In June, Symantec unveiled Veritas Virtual Infrastructure, or VxVI, which combines the company's Veritas Storage Foundation software and the full version of Citrix XenServer. It is licensing XenServer from Citrix Systems.

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