Symantec Buys Asset Management Specialist Altiris

Updated: The security software market leader signs an $830 million deal to purchase Altiris, a provider of endpoint management and server migration applications.

Symantec has added to the slew of technologies it will offer as part of its unified security architecture, announcing a deal on Jan. 29 to acquire endpoint management specialist Altiris for approximately $830 million in cash.

Altiris, of Lindon, Utah, specializes in software used by enterprises to manage and service endpoint devices, including PCs, laptops and mobile handhelds, as well as tools used to oversee the operation and maintenance of servers and IT storage systems.

Through the acquisition, Symantec claims to have added an important piece to its vision of unified enterprise security, which evangelizes the use of integrated tiers of products from one vendor, versus the traditional approach of melding together individual point technologies from multiple providers.

Symantec, based in Cupertino, Calif., said that the addition of Altiris specifically expands its ability to provide packaged security, compliance, and backup and recovery solutions for endpoints, servers and storage systems. In addition to aiding businesses in managing the configuration and maintenance of such devices, Symantec said Altiris technologies will bolster its ability to offer products that enforce security policies at the endpoint, as well as identify and protect against threats.

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Under the terms of the deal, Symantec has signed a definitive agreement to purchase all of Altiris assets, with shareholders in the acquired company receiving $33 per share of the firms stock in cash. The security software market leader said that it expects the deal to close some time during the second quarter of 2007, subject to approval from regulators and Altiris shareholders.

"The most secure endpoint is a well-managed endpoint, [and] the best protection must be complemented by the ability to remediate and address vulnerabilities that could be exploited," John W. Thompson, chairman and CEO of Symantec, said in a statement. "By combining the endpoint management solutions from Altiris with the security expertise from Symantec, we believe we can offer customers a more comprehensive solution to protect and manage the millions of connected devices that make up the fabric of todays global IT infrastructure."

In addition to its endpoint and server management tools, Symantec highlighted the addition of Altiris software virtualization technology, which is used to simplify the distribution and oversight of PC-borne applications. The technology could prove useful for both software installation and maintenance, company officials said.

"We have made it our goal to help businesses reduce the cost and complexity of IT, improve system and data security, and better align IT service with corporate objectives," Greg Butterfield, CEO of Altiris, said in a statement. "By combining our software solutions, services, and channel distribution strengths, Symantec and Altiris can offer our customers the total package in endpoint management."

The Altiris buyout marks the latest in a long string of acquisitions carried out by Symantec over the last several years as it moves away from revenue dependence from the traditional anti-virus applications market, which it has long controlled. In addition to buying companies such as Altiris that fit into its integrated enterprise security management vision, the firm has increasingly invested in compliance management and professional services as it segues further into the field of corporate risk management.

Company officials said the Altiris deal fits firmly into that strategy, as endpoint security plays a crucial role in issues of fighting threats and supporting regulatory compliance.

"We believe that endpoint management is a very strategic piece of real estate, as companies see the number of devices proliferate and their overall complexity increases," said James Socas, senior vice president of corporate development at Symantec. "The most secure endpoint is a well-managed endpoint, and that means not only dealing with viruses and phishing, it also means configuration, identifying which assets are exposed, and taking the appropriate steps to remediate any problems."

Other firms purchased by the company in recent years include configuration specialist Relicore, acquired for unspecified terms in February 2006; messaging security software maker IMLogic, bought for an undisclosed sum of money in January 2006; and policy compliance and vulnerability management expert BindView Development, for $209 million in cash, in October 2005.

In December 2004, Symantec completed the largest such deal, buying storage specialist Veritas Software in a deal worth roughly $13.5 billion.

Some industry watchers have questioned Symantecs ability to integrate all the businesses and technologies that it has purchased over the past several years, but Socas said that Altiris will quickly be pulled under the companys umbrella then allowed to operate much as it does today. Retaining the services of Altiris CEO Butterfield will also go a long way to helping the firms mesh rapidly, he said.

Altiris has roughly 900 employees worldwide.

At least one analyst said that Symantec does have its work cut out, in terms of adding the integration of Altiris to its long-running effort to meld operations with Veritas, but indicated that bringing onboard endpoint management was a natural fit for its end-to-end risk management vision.

"Integrating huge companies like this is never easy, and this just adds to the work of blending Veritas, but the good thing is that the enterprise security market is developing at the same time Symantec is doing these acquisitions," said Jon Oltsik, analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group, Milford, Mass.

"Altiris was fine and could have grown on its own, but Symantec will give them more resources; the more enterprise security matures, you have to integrate things like asst and configuration management, its definitely a piece of the puzzle that Symantec was missing."

Editors Note: This story was updated to include comments from analysts.

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