Juniper: Mobile Security Boom Motivated SMobile Acquisition

According to Juniper executives, that was part of the motivation behind Juniper's planned $70 million acquisition of SMobile Systems, a maker of software and mobile security products for smartphones and tablets running Android, iOS, Symbian, BlackBerry or Windows Mobile.

Juniper disclosed the all-cash deal late Tuesday, and said that SMobile's technology would be integrated into Junos Pulse, a client-side mobile infrastructure platform that is part of the broader Juniper Junos software ecosystem.

Antivirus, personal firewalls, antispam, data loss/theft protection, remote lock and wipe, identity protection and enterprise control software for client devices are all SMobile specialties, and when the software becomes part of Junos Pulse, Juniper solution providers will start to see the sales benefits right away, according to Juniper executives.

"Mobile security is a market we want to lead in, and an end-to-end solution for mobile security is what we were looking for," said Sanjay Beri, vice president and general manager for Juniper's Access and Acceleration Business Unit, in an interview with CRN. "We're going to focus on mapping that to the channel. Pulse is meant to be a platform on which you can sell many different services, and many enterprises are trying to get confidence in smartphones -- Android, iPhone and the whole list. For channel partners, it's another massive tool in a market that's growing."

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Selling software was a key message to Juniper partners at the J-Partner Summit in Phoenix in May. So was mobile infrastructure, and specifically, mobile client security, which according to Infonetics Research will be a $1 billion market by 2014.

"It's a different revenue stream for partners," Beri said of Juniper's push for software sales. "Over time, [VARs] can get into a customer relationship and not just sell hardware and be done, but also sell software on top of that, which, as subscription, they can monetize every year."

SMobile's 30-person staff will be joining Juniper and will become part of the vendor's Service Layer Technology (SLT) group. The staff will continue to be based in Columbus, Ohio, where SMobile has been headquartered since its founding in 2002.

"There were lots of different options, but the Juniper culture and the Juniper people meshes so perfectly with us," said Daniel Hoffman, executive vice president and CTO at SMobile. "Our strategy isn't to sell directly to consumers, it is to sell through channels and service providers, and with Juniper we can get these products, some of which have eight years of maturity, out to channels in the same manner."

Juniper and SMobile have a handful of overlapping channel partners already, Beri said, and both companies view putting the SMobile technology in the hands of Juniper's broader channel as a wide-net opportunity.

"It's an almost untapped route to market that we feel we can leverage immensely," Beri said.

Five years ago, the enterprise smartphone market was predominantly RIM BlackBerry, Hoffman noted. But the willingness among enterprise technology buyers to kick the tires on iPhones, iPads, Android devices and other clients that have made a splash in the consumer marketplace is greater than ever.

"That's been a dramatic change," Hoffman said. "BlackBerry still has a foothold, but even there we're seeing the need to supplement BlackBerry security with SMobile security."

A wider range of devices means a wider range of security needs, he noted.

"Enterprise environments are becoming heterogeneous, and many large enterprises aren't even providing devices anymore -- they're allowing their end users to choose their own and then placing security on that," Hoffman added. "So you have many different service providers in need of security and policy management to all of these device platforms, and that's where we can bring significant value."