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Consolidation's impact on best-of-breed security

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Secure Computing, like Check Point, Qualys, ArcSight and other security vendors that have risen near the top of their particular market segments, are attractive to bigger players looking to enhance or start a security business. Or they could take another direction, as Check Point did last year, and try to acquire an up-and-comer like Source- fire, with an entrenched technology like Snort and innovation on top of it like RNA.

Others like Arcot, for example, spend their time cultivating partnerships with bigger players in an attempt to become ubiquitous in other companies' products. Arcot's best example is the integration of its authentication product into Windows CardSpace, formerly InfoCard.

"If you pick up two or three players in a space, you have two or three offerings and two or three customer bases to manage. A lot of energy and attention goes into figuring out how to do that and whether you're going to maintain all of it," Arcot CTO Jim Reno says.

It's a busy space.

What's Next?
First it was GreenBorder, then Postini, then speculation. That's what happens when Google spends more than $650 million in the security market.

Will Google become a security vendor? Will it integrate its acquisitions into future Google offerings? Is there a bigger shoe still to fall? No one at Google is really

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saying, which is leading to a bevy of theories about the road map leading out of Mountain View, Calif.

Yankee Group analyst Andrew Jaquith says Google's goal is to make the operating system irrelevant via its hosted Web applications--a shot across not just Microsoft's bow. Google product manager Rajen Sheth implied on a company blog shortly following Google's $625 million pickup of Postini that enhanced security would make enterprises less hesitant to run Google's hosted office applications.

"On-demand applications are clearly where Google wants to stake its claim," Jaquith says, noting Google's current array of apps enables it to compete at the low end the office market. "They will go up-market over time. I think they will also do the same in the security arena with message hygiene [Postini] and browser security [GreenBorder]."

More speculation: Google could get into antimalware with a Webroot-type acquisition--though Jaquith believes Webroot is "probably far too expensive." He also wouldn't rule out a security apps suite or appliance.

--MICHAEL S. MIMOSO

This was first published in September 2007

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