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Blue Coat boosts network security gateway biz with Crossbeam acquisition

Blue Coat's network security gateway business will get a boost from its merger with security hardware specialist Crossbeam.

Private equity firm Thoma Bravo has merged network security vendors Blue Coat Systems and Crossbeam Systems.

Crossbeam makes scalable modular hardware that runs third-party network security software from partners like Check Point Software Technologies and McAfee. That hardware will now be combined with Blue Coat's Web security and WAN optimization technology, and should boost Blue Coat's ability to deliver high performance network security gateways to enterprises and service providers.

"Most network security appliances are single vendor. I think one thing Blue Coat will have to tackle is getting more vendors on the Crossbeam platform, and then positioning themselves more competitively. In the network security space, vendors are notoriously uncooperative and have weak third-party ecosystems," said Greg Young, research vice president with Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner Inc.

Blue Coat said it will maintain Crossbeam's commitment to offering a vendor-independent network security platform.

"We will continue to embrace an open ecosystem and support best-of-breed ISV [independent software vendor] applications that allow customers to cost effectively deploy the security solutions that best fit their needs," Blue Coat Chief Operating Officer and President David Murphy said in an email interview. "Our engineering, support and field teams will work closely with each of the ISVs on solution design, roadmap and support inquires to provide customers with the choice they value."

Blue Coat isn't ready to comment on how it might integrate its products with Crossbeam's, but Murphy said his company's customers need more scalability and performance from network security gateways.

"At Blue Coat, we have heard from many of our customers about their increasing need for capacity at the Internet gateway. With the X-Series, we can leverage our broader enterprise market coverage and distribution to address our customers’ need for scalable performance and security," he said.

Running Blue Coat security products on Crossbeam's modular X-Series appliances makes obvious sense to Gartner's Young. He said he is more interested in seeing how Blue Coat makes use of Crossbeam's engineering expertise, which has proven its ability to do high-end network engineering. Crossbeam claims 16 of the world's 20 largest service providers as customers.

"Blue Coat intends to retain and build on that talent to accelerate the delivery of the Crossbeam roadmap and expand the market penetration of the X-Series," Murphy said. However, Crossbeam's existing development, manufacturing and support teams will remain intact at Crossbeam's Boxborough, Mass., facility, which will become Blue Coat's fourth R&D site (along with Sunnyvale, Calif.; Draper, Utah; and Waterloo, Ontario.

Thoma Bravo, which owns several network security companies, bought Crossbeam earlier this fall. The private equity firm has made several moves in the security market this year. It sold SonicWALL to Dell last spring.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Shamus McGillicuddy, news director.

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