Cisco To Buy Cloud Security Company CloudLock, Giving Partners An Accelerator To The Cloud

Cisco is buying its fourth security vendor in the past 12 months, spending more than $1 billion in total as it strives to become the security market leader. The San Jose, Calif.-based networking giant's newest play is the planned acquisition of cloud-based security specialist CloudLock for $293 million, a provider of technology that will help channel partners accelerate cloud adoption for customers.

"[CloudLock] is a double benefit for Cisco and channel partners because it has both the security aspect and is also an accelerator to the cloud. So it's a great investment to build out our product portfolio around cloud and security," said Kent MacDonald, vice president of business development at Calgary, Alberta-based Long View Systems, a Cisco Gold partner ranked No. 85 on the 2016 CRN Solution Provider 500 list. "[Cisco CEO] Chuck Robbins is keeping his foot on the accelerator -- the pace of these acquisitions since Chuck's taken over, it must be on a record pace."

Privately held Waltham, Mass.-based CloudLock specializes in cloud access security broker technology that provides enterprises with visibility and analytics around user behavior and sensitive data in cloud services – including Software-as-a-Service and Infrastructure-as-a-Service, according to a Cisco blog on Tuesday.

[Related: Cisco Launches Breakthrough Analytics Data Center Appliance To 'Accelerate' Customer Adoption Of New Technologies]

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Rob Salvagno, vice president of Cisco Corporate Development, said in a statement that businesses are looking for a partner who can accelerate their migration to the cloud while delivering security capabilities for their applications and data in a seamless way.

"CloudLock brings a unique cloud-native platform and API-based approach to cloud security, which allows them to build powerful security solutions that are easy to deploy and simple to manage," said Salvagno.

MacDonald said Cisco is striving to become the "one-stop shop" for security and cloud services, which bodes well for its channel community. Security is becoming the focal point in customer conversations in the sales field, according to MacDonald.

"We're seeing a transition in that security is the lead conversation that we're engaging customers with," said MacDonald. "Instead of adding security as part of the solution, we're now building offers that are led by security needs or requirements."

CloudLock focuses on accelerating cloud adoption for enterprises by delivering security through its cloud access security broker technology, which helps customers understand and monitor user behavior and sensitive data in cloud applications. The technology provides greater visibility, compliance and threat protection regardless of whether the applications are fully sanctioned by IT or not, according to the blog.

CloudLock has about 130 employees and has raised nearly $30 million in venture funding from investors including Ascent Venture Partners.

"CloudLock rose to leadership in the cloud security sector with a pure-play approach of being cloud-native while leveraging other cloud platform APIs in a collaborative fashion," said Luke Burns, general partner at Ascent Venture Partners, in an email to CRN. "They were a trailblazer of this approach while the competition often focused their efforts on extending legacy methods."

The CloudLock team will report to Senior Vice President and General Manager David Goeckeler, who is leading Cisco's new Networking and Security Business Group. At Cisco Partner Summit 2016 in March, Goeckeler said Cisco's security vision will fundamentally change the market and that security competitors are selling "legacy technology."

Cisco will pay $293 million in cash and assumed equity awards, plus additional retention-based incentives for CloudLock employees who join Cisco, according to the blog.

Cisco plans to close on its acquisition of CloudLock in its first quarter of fiscal year 2017.

The other security vendors Cisco has acquired include Lancope for $452 million, a provider of network behavior analytics, threat visibility and security intelligence; Portcullis Computer Security, a U.K.-based consultancy firm that offers security services to the enterprise, for an undisclosed amount; and OpenDNS for $635 million, which provides advanced threat protection for any device, anywhere.