Cisco Acquiring Imperva Would Be A 'Huge Hit' In Filling Out Security Portfolio, Partners Say

Partners are urging Cisco to acquire security technology vendor Imperva, which is currently seeking suitors, as its technology strengths would fill gaps inside Cisco’s "security everywhere" strategy.

’Imperva would be a huge hit for Cisco,’ said one top executive from a Cisco Gold solution provider who declined to be named. ’There’s a couple areas like DDoS and web application firewalls – they have some of those things that Cisco is currently not participating in. So it’s going to fill in some key holes if Cisco wants to be that end-to-end security provider.’

Imperva also excels in some security areas where Cisco lacks capabilities, including data security, encryption and data masking, said Greg Kushto, director of Security and Enterprise Networks at Force 3, a Crofton, MD-based solution provider ranked No. 78 on CRN’s 2016 Solution Provider 500. Acquiring Imperva, he said, would boost the ability of Cisco and its channel partners to sell to line-of-business buyers.

[Related: Sources: Cisco Close To Making Bid To Buy Springpath]

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’Most of the time, these senior leaders or CEOs don’t really know cybersecurity. But if you’re saying, ’Hey, you know how that other company got hacked and their information was stolen? Well we’ve encrypted all the information so nobody can steal it’ – that means something to them,’ said Kushto. ’You need that complete picture, which is really where Cisco is focused on and [is] really their strength.’

After weeks of speculations that Imperva was looking for a buyer, the Redwood Shores, Calif.-based vendor recently disclosed that it had hired Qatalyst Partners as a financial adviser and launched a strategic review of the company to explore opportunities. The company also hired Fenwick & West as legal advisors.

Investors and analysts familiar with the situation said the top potential buyers include Cisco, Juniper Networks and IBM, according to a report from The Street.

Cisco has been extremely busy on the acquisition front over the past 12 months, buying a total of 11 companies. Three of those 11 companies were security vendors – Lancope, Portcullis and CloudLock.

The acquisition of CloudLock for $293 million in June was made to boost Cisco’s cloud access security broker technology, while U.K.-based Portcullis was a play to expand its security consulting services, especially outside of North America. Lancope was purchased for $452 million and its context-aware threat detection and complex network forensics technology has already been implemented inside Cisco routers.

Imperva touts itself as a leading provider of data and application security systems that protect critical business information in the cloud and on premise. The company was recently identified as the only ’Leader’ in Gartner’s 2016 Magic Quadrant for Web Application Firewalls.

Founded in 2002, Imperva generated $234 million in revenue for fiscal year 2015 and has a market cap of $1.5 billion. The company has over 4,500 customers and 300 partners in more than 90 countries.

Partners said their Cisco security sales are growing at double-digit rates due to customers seeking to work with fewer security vendors while at the same time find an easier way to securely transition to the cloud. Nearly all of Cisco’s acquisitions over the past two years have been cloud-focused companies.

’Cisco’s definitely embracing that transition and asking how they can help their customers with their migration to the cloud. Cisco can wrap a good security story around that [with Imperva],’ said Ethan Simmons, vice president, East, for Dallas-based Lumenate, a Cisco partner ranked No. 152 on the 2016 CRN Solution Provider 500 list.

Partners said it’s the right time to buy Imperva with security and cloud security top-of-mind for customers, a situation that's unlikely to change over the next few years. When combining the hot market with Cisco’s security architecture approach, channel partners are expecting security sales to increase for the foreseeable future.

’[Imperva would] really help continue Cisco’s architecture big-picture pitch of ’Lets not just worry about this specific thing, but let’s talk about security throughout your entire enterprise or organization,’’ said Kushto. ’They’ve chosen a great strategy to get into this security market and are clearly focused on execution now.’