Oracle adds security firm to shopping basket

On acquisition tear, company scoops up 100-person software company specializing in computer user authentication.

Oracle has acquired a privately held computer security company, continuing an acquisition spree it started in recent months.

The database maker announced its acquisition of Oblix on Monday. Based in Cupertino, Calif., Oblix makes programs that guard access to computer programs and data on corporate networks and Web sites, a specialty known as "identity management."

Oracle has been on an acquisition tear recently, buying software maker Retek for $650 million in a deal inked just last week. In December, it bought rival PeopleSoft for $10 billion, after a heated takeover battle.

The Oblix deal is tiny, relative to the others. Although Oracle didn't disclose financial details, Oblix employs just 100 people.

One of them is Oblix Chief Executive Gordon Eubanks, a software industry veteran and former CEO of Symantec. Eubanks is not joining Oracle and will instead "be pursuing personal and new interests," an Oracle representative said.

Oracle said the company's technology complements access management software already built in to its Oracle Application Server program and will further bolster the security features of the product. Competitors on this front include BEA Systems, IBM and Sun Microsystems.

Oblix recently entered the Web services technology market via acquisition--another aspect of the company that may have appealed to Oracle. Many software companies are touting Web services as a breakthrough method for sharing data among incompatible computers programs.

Oblix also counts as clients several blue-chip companies, including American Airlines, British Airways, Cisco Systems, General Motors and Ingersoll-Rand.

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