Is a merger or acquisition in Sourcefire's future?

It's been a busy year for Sourcefire Inc. founder and Chief Technology Officer Martin Roesch, creator of the widely popular Snort open source IDS tool. In November he announced that Sourcefire had filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to raise up to $75 million in an initial public offering (IPO) of stock. Seven months earlier, Check Point had dropped plans to acquire the company amid concerns that foreign ownership of Snort would threaten U.S. national security. In the wake of the IPO, Roesch remains reluctant to go into greater detail on his company's future direction. But at the Gartner IT Security Summit in Washington D.C., he told SearchSecurity.com how Sourcefire fit into Gartner's Security 3.0 theme. In the process, he suggested that the war chest Sourcefire has developed as a newly public company could be used in a future merger or acquisition.

How has the Sourcefire IPO settled?
The process, the Wall Street aspect, was pretty fascinating. We're public now and it's great. You get taken more seriously as a company. You're no longer the little start-up that could go away. Competitors used to say that because we were private you couldn't tell what was going on, and that we could go away any day. They can't say that now. What are some of the direct benefits customers will notice now that you are public?
We have a bigger war chest now and stock that's worth something, which we could use in a future M&A (mergers and acquisitions) transaction. I have to be pretty circumspect in talking about some of what we have planned. We're looking at certain M&A transactions in spaces that compliment what we're doing now. We're looking for ways to leverage open source more effectively. We have some tricks up our sleeve, but it's too soon to really talk about them. The theme at Gartner this year is Security 3.0, the concept of having security baked into the larger IT infrastructure. Where does Sourcefire fit in?
We have what we call our 3-D strategy, which fits in really well with the Security 3.0 concept. It's an overlay security infrastructure that lets us take our technology, our IPS, defense center, and integrate it with the rest of the existing network infrastructure, making it more effective for providing security in our customer environments. I think it's a great dovetailing of technologies together. Everyone isn't going to run out and buy new security-enabled infrastructure -- switches, routers and so on. They want [their security] to work with what they've got, so our approach is intelligence-enabled technology that overlays very nicely on existing infrastructure. Snort is hugely popular and sometimes the open source community will cringe at the thought of more integration because they like the freedom to be flexible with different programs. How are the Snort users reacting to Sourcefire's direction?
They are very happy with our direction. The bulk of them are Snort users. I'm working on the new Snort 3.0 architecture and I've been showing it to customers and they love it. They feel it's the logical progression, a more comprehensive code base to attack their problems compared to what has come before. The existing Snort architecture has been in the field since 1999 and it is battle tested, very solid code. We're taking it in the next logical direction. The gear heads like the direction and those who aren't gear heads like that they don't have to be gear heads to use it.

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