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Cisco Boosting Security with Sourcefire Buy for $2.7B

Cisco Boosting Security with Sourcefire Buy for $2.7B
By Jennifer LeClaire

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"As security becomes pervasive it's difficult for Cisco to compete with every appliance vendor. Cisco has an initiative called pxGrid. The idea is they can pull in information from a number of different sources, use analytics on that data, and offer a network-wide view of what is going on with security," said Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst at ZK Research.
 


In a move to shore up its security platform, Cisco is acquiring Sourcefire for $2.7 billion. The networking giant will leverage Sourcefire's intelligent cybersecurity solutions to beef up its protection against pervasive advanced threats across the attack continuum spectrum -- before, during and after an attack -- and from any device to any cloud.

That's a tall promise, and a large bet to make good on it. But Sourcefire seems to bring the backup Cisco needs. And with the acquisition, the company gets more than technology -- it gets a team with deep security DNA that could accelerate Cisco's security strategy of discovering, defending, and remediating advanced threats.

"'Buy' has always been a key part of our build-buy-partner innovation strategy," said Hilton Romanski, vice president of Cisco Corporate Development. "Sourcefire aligns well with Cisco's future vision for security and supports the key pillars of our security strategy. Through our shared view of the critical role the network must play in cybersecurity and threat defense, we have a unique opportunity to deliver the most comprehensive approach to security in the market."

Continuous Awareness

Cisco needed to do something more on the security front, especially with increased enterprise investments in mobility, cloud and the evolution of the "Internet of Everything." These technological advances are rapidly changing today's IT security landscape, making traditional, disparate products insufficient to protect organizations from dynamic threats.

Sourcefire gives Cisco automated security through continuous awareness, threat detection and protection across its portfolio, including intrusion prevention systems, next-generation firewalls, and advanced malware protection. The keyword that wove its way through the acquisition announcement was "continuous."

"The notion of the 'perimeter' no longer exists and today's sophisticated threats are able to circumvent traditional, disparate security products," said Christopher Young, senior vice president, Cisco Security Group. "Organizations require continuous and pervasive advanced threat protection that addresses each phase of the attack continuum."

Sourcefire Fills a Void

We caught up with Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst at ZK Research, to get his thoughts on the multibillion-dollar acquisition. He told us the acquisition solves a couple of problems for Cisco.

"As security becomes pervasive it's difficult for Cisco to compete with every appliance vendor at every point. It's not realistic to be everywhere," Kerravala said. "Cisco has an initiative called pxGrid. The idea is they can pull in information from a number of different sources, use analytics on that data, and offer a network-wide view of what is going on with security."

From that perspective, Kerravala said Sourcefire gives Cisco a best-of-breed, next-generation firewall -- something the company didn't have. But he's also looking from the long-term perspective: Sourcefire has intelligence as well as additional analytics capabilities that Cisco can leverage with pxGrid.

"Cisco paid a pretty hefty premium. But I've always felt that when an acquisition leads to long-term sustainable value you really can't pay too much," he said. "If they can leverage this to regain their mojo in security, then the $2.7 billion a year from now will look like peanuts."
 

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