Symantec Buying Into IM Security

The Cupertino, Calif., security giant Tuesday said it plans to acquire IMlogic, which provides security and access controls for instant messaging clients from America Online, Microsoft and Yahoo! Financial terms of the all cash deal were not disclosed.

Symantec has been on a buying binge for years, acquiring Brightmail in 2004 for its anti-spam capabilities and storage software giant Veritas in a deal that closed last July.

IMlogic's wares bolster the security, reporting and archiving capabilities of public instant messaging. That in itself is a huge thing in a world where regulations demand better accountability of the use of such systems, especially by publicly traded companies. IMlogic products capture and index IM sessions, log them, and manage them.

Symantec and IMlogic already have partnered to deliver solutions for protecting IM from Internet threats as well as from spam sent through IM.

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That partnership will allow Symantec to more easily integrate IMlogic's product line with Symantec's offerings, said Carlin Wiegner, senior director of product delivery for Symantec. IMlogic's threat detection and remediation for IM will be immediately integrated into Symantec's early warning and response system, and is already integrated with Symantec's Enterprise Vault e-mail and content archiving solution. The deal also will give Symantec's channel partners the opportunity to sell additional security features without adding more vendors.

"If they can integrate this all and make it look and feel like one platform, they'll really have something compelling," said David Via, vice president of the Wolcott Group, a Fairlawn, Ohio, e-mail specialist.

That appears to be the goal. "Our customers have asked us for a holistic management tool to control all real-time collaboration and keep it highly available, compliant and secure," said Francis DeSouza, president and CEO of IMlogic, Waltham, Mass. in a statement.

Ken Winell, CTO of VisAlign, a King of Prussia, Pa., solution provider was likewise intrigued. "This is an interesting acquisition. It makes sense to have a single portfolio to handle e-mail and IM security, along with other security. I am curious as to what it means for the Symantec-Microsoft relationship," he said.

Microsoft offers both a public IM network in Microsoft Messenger as well as Live Communications Server, which layers security and other business-centric perks onto IM. IMlogic plus public IM competes with Live Communications Server.

And, Microsoft has encroached on Symantec's turf with its own anti-spam and anti-spyware technology but also still works hand-in-hand with Symantec on their Windows security products.

Asked for a reaction, a Microsoft official lauded the news. "This is a positive example of the increasing customer demand for secure, enterprise-class IM, as the technology has expanded from the home to the workplace. We&'re optimistic about both the market and the innovation opportunity as IM becomes an increasingly essential part of the way we work," said Michael Croan, group marketing manager for Real-time Collaboration via e-mail.