Security Experts:

Blue Coat to Acquire Network Security Firm Crossbeam Systems

Blue Coat Systems on Monday announced its plans to acquire Crossbeam Systems to expand its security and network optimization portfolio.

The Blue Coat-Crossbeam combination would bring "complementary" technologies into a unified portfolio to scale and secure the world's largest and most complex networks, David Murphy, BlueCoat's president, told SecurityWeek.

Blue Coat customers who use the Unified Security product line for Web security would be able to look at Crossbeam's platform to protect inline security and intrusion prevention. Customers are interested in products that work adjacent to each other, and are not necessarily looking for a single box to handle all aspects of security, Murphy said.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. The acquisition is expected to close Dec. 31, the company said.

Private equity firm Thoma Bravo acquired Blue Coat back in February for $1.3 billion and bought Crossbeam for an undisclosed sum in November.

Blue Coat sells Web security and WAN optimization software on a series of appliances. Crossbeam's X-series is an open, high-performance architecture that integrates network processing with application processing to create a high-performance, virtualized security infrastructure. Customers can use Crossbeam technology to run unified threat management platforms, firewalls, and intrusion detection systems/intrusion prevention systems from vendors such as Check Point, McAfee, Sourcefire, and Imperva.

The companies have significant overlap in customers, service providers, and channel partners, Murphy said. The two companies have not formally worked together as partners, but "meet regularly in the channel," Murphy said. A significant number of customers use Blue Coat appliances and Crossbeam application blades. Murphy said there will be plenty of cross-sell and upsell opportunities after the acquisition.

Blue Coat expects the acquisition to bring in additional people and grow the company, Murphy said. There are approximately 150 employees at Crossbream, and Murphy said the vast majority of the divisions, such as R&D and field operations, will remain intact. Both companies have strong channel-partner ecosystem, so the focus will be on creating a single account structure to handle all the sales teams with a "single point of focus," Murphy said. Some consolidation in the back offices is expected, however.

Headquartered in Boxborough, Mass., Crossbeam has offices in the United States, Europe, Latin America, and Asia. Where it makes sense, the offices will be integrated, such as combining the two London offices, Murphy said. Blue Coat plans to keep Crossbeam's Boxborough location. The Boston-area will become the "fourth sector" for Blue Coat, which currently has centers in Sunnyvale, Calif., Draper, UT, and Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.

No decision has been made regarding how products will be rebranded after the acquisition, Murphy said.

Thoma Bravo currently manages a series of private equity funds representing almost $4 billion of equity commitments, including several investments in security-related tech firms over the past few years.

The private equity firm announced its plans to acquire privately-held TripWire in May 2011, and was also the leader of an investor group that acquired SonicWALL in June 2010 in a transaction valued at approximately $717 million. SonicWALL was later sold to Dell for an undisclosed sum.

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Fahmida Y. Rashid is a Senior Contributing Writer for SecurityWeek. She has experience writing and reviewing security, core Internet infrastructure, open source, networking, and storage. Before setting out her journalism shingle, she spent nine years as a help-desk technician, software and Web application developer, network administrator, and technology consultant.