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Where do you turn when the security vendor you've banked on gets gobbled up?

After a few installation hiccups, the firewall worked beautifully. Jeff Pentz and his IT staff with the University Health Center at the University of Georgia were pleased with their purchase. All was right with the world. That is, until another company acquired their firewall vendor.

When Pentz's team ran into problems deploying the firewall vendor's VPN software and called for support, they encountered a company in the flux of a merger. What he thought would be a simple two-day fix became a futile exchange of e-mails and phone calls with an ever-changing parade of engineers and managers over several weeks.

"It was a nightmare for us," says Pentz, the center's associate IT director.

Pentz is not alone. A crush of consolidation--more than 40 security firms have been acquired in the past four years--has caused users a number of headaches, including service, support and sometimes even obsolete technology. And there's no end in sight. Morgan Stanley reports that the pace of mergers and acquisitions in IT security will accelerate this year--an inescapable consequence in a market that's simply not big enough to accommodate all its players.

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This was first published in February 2006

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