Microsoft Secures Mobile Access With Whale Buy

Microsoft continues to piece together its security strategy with purchase of VPN and firewall maker.

By Clint Boulton | Posted May 18, 2006
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Microsoft has agreed to buy security appliance specialist Whale Communications Ltd. for an undisclosed sum.

Microsoft said Whale's Intelligent Application Gateway and Application Optimizers provide Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) virtual private networks (VPN) and application firewalls that offer enterprises tight control over who they provide remote access to.

Whale's Windows-based gateways and software will work in concert with Windows Server and ISA Server, providing mobile workers with access to corporate networks from PCs, laptops, Web kiosks and handheld computers.

The software uses SSL (define), which secure online activities by verifying the identities of computer users, to dictate what information or Web sites employees can access while on the road.

Steve Brown, director of product management for the security access and solutions division at Microsoft, said the buy is geared to strike a balance between helping customers protect their data and infrastructure while allowing mobile workers access to the network.

"Having the world's most secure network and application is no good if you can't give users the access they need to the information," Brown said.

"[Customers] are worried about network security, a new generation of security threats at the application layer, and they have to worry about regulatory compliance and corporate policy," Brown said.

Acquiring SSL-VPN and firewall technology fills a gap in Microsoft's growing security software portfolio.

The deal also thrusts them into competition with SSL-VPN vendors Cisco Systems, Positive Networks, SonicWall, Juniper Networks and Aventail.

Microsoft has been on a regular acquisition spree since announcing its intent to enter the security market and take on Symantec and others a few years ago.

In a span of two years, the company acquired the DynaComm i:filter Web filtering product from FutureSoft, anti-virus specialist Sybari Software, anti-spyware vendor Giant Software, e-mail security concern FrontBridge and smart-card maker Alacris.

Whale Communications is headquartered in Fort Lee, N.J., and will maintain all current operations until the transaction closes in a few months.

The market for SSL products is heating up.

Microsoft's bid for Whale comes a day after SSL market leader VeriSign agreed to buy SSL certificate specialist GeoTrust.

Article courtesy of internetnews.com

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