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Microsoft to acquire security specialist Sybari

The New York-based company that Microsoft covets specializes in protecting e-mail servers from viruses and spam.

Microsoft beefed up its security strategy today with an announcement that it intends to acquire Sybari Software Inc., a security software manufacturer that specializes in protecting enterprise messaging servers from viruses and spam.

The acquisition plans are just the latest effort on Microsoft's part to bolster the security of its software. The company last year purchased antivirus scanning technology from Romania's GeCAD. In December, Microsoft purchased Giant Company Software Inc., an antispyware software manufacturer. Microsoft last year also released its Intelligent Messaging Filter, which helps Exchange Server 2003 customers fight spam.

Microsoft has been laying the groundwork in the security space for the past six months and it appears that now they feel they can confidently enter the antispyware, antispam and antivirus markets, said Lee Benjamin, principal with ExchangeGuy Consulting, in Boston.

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Benjamin said he expects Microsoft to do what it does well, which is to offer a basic, inexpensive client offering. "They will have basic protection for clients, that is low cost and packaged with their products in the future," Benjamin said. "On the other hand, they will enter the enterprise. The antispyware software is clearly moving into the enterprise; Sybari is clearly enterprise."

New York-based Sybari's products have been tightly integrated with Microsoft's Exchange Server for years, Benjamin noted. The software also works with IBM's Lotus Notes.

The shape of things to come for Exchange

Another expert said the deal for Sybari points to security improvements that customers can expect to see in future versions of Microsoft's messaging platform. Company executives have been vague in laying out new security features for Exchange Server beyond basics, including the Edge Services gateway component that will become part of the main server.

"The plan was at a high level and in the future, so it was a matter of building it or buying it," said Erica Rugullies, a director at Forrester Research, a Cambridge, Mass., consulting firm. "This is a way for Microsoft to get there more quickly."

She said an inadequate security feature set is one reason that some enterprise customers cite for abandoning Exchange for IBM Lotus Domino as their messaging platform. "This will help combat their objections," Rugullies said.

Terms of the deal, which are subject to regulatory approval, were not released.

Note: This article originally appeared on

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