Cisco Systems on Nov. 1 announced its 125th acquisition with an agreement to acquire policy management software provider Securent.
The acquisition, valued at about $100 million, brings to Cisco technology that allows customers to administer, audit and enforce access policies to a wide range of applications, data and infrastructure.
The privately held company's flagship product, the Entitlement Management Solution, emphasizes heterogeneous application and enforcement of policies and fine-grained control of those policies.
"Securent is a company that does what's called authorization management. They support building a set of access control policies for users across the entire enterprise—not just a Windows system or certain applications, but all systems and all applications," said Ray Wagner, managing vice president in the secure business enablement group with Gartner in Nashville, Tenn.
Read more here about authorization management.
Cisco's plan for Securent is to allow customers to deliver access policies from the network, which is intended to simplify decisions on who has access to what for all communications, collaboration and third-party applications.
The acquisition bolsters Cisco's effort to move up the stack into the applications space to get farther beyond its position as a network infrastructure provider. But moving Securent's EMS offering through its network-oriented sales force could be a stretch for Cisco, believes Neil MacDonald, vice president and fellow at Gartner in Stamford, Conn.
Cisco acquires WiMax specialist Navini. Read more here.
"The most significant challenge is Cisco getting outside of their traditional buying center," MacDonald said. "They will need to retrain their sales force. That is a significant issue for Cisco. They have had trouble getting traction with their application initiatives and still need more credibility in this area. Securent won't immediately buy them credibility."
Securent will become a part of Cisco's Collaboration Software Group when the acquisition closes sometime in Cisco's second fiscal quarter of 2008. All employees are expected to join that group. Securent CEO Rajiv Gupta will report to Don Proctor, senior vice president of that group.
"As enterprises shift to service-oriented architectures [SOAs] and adopt technologies such as Unified Communications and Web 2.0-based collaboration, there is a rising need for control over access to distributed enterprise resources," said Proctor in a written statement.
Proctor sees Securent's single point of control for managing entitlements as complementary to its SOA because it allows "policy decisions to be delivered as a network service across multiple applications, platforms and delivery models," he said in the statement.
But other industry analysts are skeptical. "The omnipresence of the network is obvious, but moving policy decisions securely without compromising network payload privacy to the network is not immediately convincing—network operations and [governance, risk and compliance] groups are still siloed at most organizations," said Andras Cser, senior analyst at Forrester Research in Cambridge, Mass.
"I think Cisco really needs to come up with a broader strategy in identity and access management," he added.
Check out eWEEK.com's Security Center for the latest security news, reviews and analysis. And for insights on security coverage around the Web, take a look at eWEEK's Security Watch blog.