Symantec grabs Altiris for $830 million

Symantec grabs Altiris for $830 million

Security vendor to provide customers with closed loop endpoint management by acquiring Altiris' systems management technologies

Symantec on Monday announced it has agreed to acquire systems management vendor Altiris for US$830 million.

The deal, subject to Altiris shareholder and regulatory approvals, would have Altiris operating as a business unit within Symantec, headed by Altiris President and CEO Greg Butterfield.

"This acquisition is driven by customer demand for the convergence of security and IT operations. This is a reality in today's IT market," Butterfield said.

Ultimately, Symantec would integrate Altiris management technology with Symantec's security, compliance, and backup and recovery products to provide automated remediation capabilities for networked endpoint devices such as desktops, laptops, servers, storage and mobile devices, said Symantec Chairman and CEO John Thompson during a conference call.

"The most secure endpoint is a managed endpoint," Thompson said.

The integration of Symantec and Altiris technology will provide the converged security and management capabilities enterprise and midsize customers need, despite expected security advancements in operating systems such as Microsoft's Vista, Thompson said. As Symantec technologies detect a conflict on an endpoint device with predefined security or compliance policies, for example, Altiris technology can automatically provision an update or distribute a patch to the non-compliant machine, providing customers with a "closed-loop" system, he said.

"Adding this component to our portfolio makes us infinitely more competitive with the likes of Microsoft," Thompson said. "We think what customers want is more integrated technology from fewer vendors. Symantec and Altiris will provide customers a choice to secure and manage heterogeneous systems."

Thompson said Symantec, which in recent years has picked up BindView, ON Technology, PowerQuest, Relicore and Veritas, is approaching this acquisition a bit differently, by having Altiris operate as a separate operating unit within Symantec. Therefore, he said, integrating the company and its technology won't require the restructuring or disruption in product delivery others may have. For instance, Veritas "was a game-changing acquisition that touched every part of Symantec," while Altiris represents opportunities around endpoint management.

For that reason, the buy isn't expected to impact the delivery of Symantec's revamped security client, code-named Hamlet. The software is expected to integrate security and network policy enforcement technology that the company picked up from WholeSecurity and Sygate acquisitions. And Altiris is not expected to displace similar technologies acquired from ON or with Veritas, by way of its Jareva Technologies acquisition, Thompson said.

"There is a clear opportunity for integration with Hamlet, but we are going to get Hamlet out the door first," Thompson said. "While the technologies have similar functionality, the buyers are very different. The question becomes is there a common technology that scales, which would be ideal, but not practical."

For its part, Altiris had picked up security vendor Pedestal in 2005 for $65 million to add security and compliance enforcement to its systems management portfolio. Altiris also in the past year worked to add support for Linux operating systems and virtual environments to its product suite. The company also has partnerships with HP and more recently Dell to include management capabilities with the vendors' respective gear.

"We had Altiris on our [merger and acquisition] road map since its partnership with Dell we saw the synergies," Thompson said. "The unique nature of this property made it important for us to move fast. This is the right long-term, complementary technology for our company and our team."

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