Cisco Systems Inc. on Friday agreed to acquire intrusion-prevention software vendor Okena Inc. for $154 million in stock.
The deal is an interesting one for Cisco, which has traditionally focused far more energy and resources on its huge networking business than its VPN and firewall lines. But the purchase sends a clear signal that the San Jose, Calif., company sees the security business as a key to its future health given the brutal slump thats been affecting the networking market.
Okena, based in Waltham, Mass., has emerged as one of the leaders of the small, but growing market for intrusion-prevention software. The companys StormWatch system uses an agent-based architecture to intercept operating system calls and regulate the behavior of applications and other network resources. It relies heavily on the ability to correlate data culled from dozens of security and network devices and to react to emerging threats as they occur.
Okena, which launched its product line in April 2001, was one of the first vendors to develop a product with these capabilities and to exploit the growing dissatisfaction among systems administrators with traditional intrusion detection systems. The intrusion-prevention category has since drawn the attention of bigger companies such as Internet Security Systems Inc., which recently announced its own Dynamic Threat Protection platform, and Symantec Corp., which last year acquired SecurityFocus and its DeepSight Threat Management System.
Cisco officials said they expect to close the acquisition in the third quarter and anticipate taking a charge of about $0.01 per share to cover some costs associated with the purchase.
Okenas 52 employees will move to Ciscos Virtual Private Network and Security Business Unit.