Sophos Acquires Astaro to Add UTM to Network Security Portfolio

Sophos has acquired privately held Astaro, a dedicated unified threat management provider. With this buyout, Sophos acquires Astaro's UTM appliance line to provide gateway security solutions.

British security firm Sophos has acquired unified threat management provider Astaro to round out its networking security portfolio.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Sophos will be able to provide complete data and threat protection for IT, regardless of device type, user location or network boundaries, Sophos said on May 6. The combined company will offer endpoint Web security protection and Web filtering with integrated policy management and reporting on the gateway, Arabella Hallawell, vice president of corporate strategy at Sophos, told eWEEK.

"The combination of Astaro's comprehensive portfolio of network security solutions alongside our endpoint, mobile, and email and Web threat and data protection capabilities will enable us to continue to deliver on our vision of providing complete security without complexity wherever the user and company data resides," said Steve Munford, CEO of Sophos.

With this acquisition, Sophos now has access to gateway security solutions. Astaro's UTM appliance line is an all-in-one box that includes firewall, intrusion prevention, URL blocking and other security features. UTMs are designed to simplify security management and are typically targeted for the small and medium enterprise and branch offices of large corporations

Security solutions have been needlessly complex, and enterprises are just not using them, James Lyne, director of technology strategy at Sophos, told eWEEK. IT managers need to be able to just say, "Protect my users" without fiddling with multiple options and policies, Lyne said.

Astaro was the fourth largest dedicated UTM provider with more than 56,000 installations in over 60 countries, according to Sophos. The company reported $56 million in revenue in 2010. Hallawell said the combined company will be heading for $500 million in 2012.

Astaro is a "strategic investment into the network security business," and will be "an adjacent and complementary business" for Sophos, said Hallawell.

Sophos will continue its line of Web and email security appliances. The vision of coordinated protection for IT networks and users "goes far beyond" traditional gateway definitions and includes using enforcement points across remote users, small remote locations, branch offices, and central headquarters and cloud providers, according to Hallawell.

"The combination of our email and Web security with Astaro network security solutions significantly augments our gateway share and overall portfolio to customers," Hallawell said.

Research firm IDC estimated the market for unified threat management was approximately $2 billion worldwide in 2010.

"Demand for network security solutions with more comprehensive and high-quality protection is accelerating fast, and yet companies are struggling with the complexity of multiple security solutions to serve these needs," said Jan Hichert, Astaro's CEO. After the acquisition closes, Hichert will report directly to Munford.

Sophos may integrate its network access control technology with Astaro's UTM appliances to offer coverage for unmanaged devices, Hallawell said. While a more detailed road map is not expected for a few more months, Sophos will likely focus on real-time protection against malware and malicious Websites in the short term, according to Hallawell. In the long term, the combined company will "tackle big pain points" such as protecting roaming users off the network. There are also plans for mobile control capabilities.

Around 220 people work in Astaro's offices in Wilmington, Mass., and Karlsruhe, Germany. The Wilmington office is near the Sophos Boston offices. Sophos will be reviewing the various locations to determine whether any of them should be combined, according to Hallawell.