Late last year, the software giant wanted to build on an important technology--the RAV antivirus software that it acquired from Romania-based GeCad--to take it beyond a desktop virus scanner to a security product for businesses. Rather than develop the extra software needed, the company looked to partners. Sybari's Antigen scanner for Microsoft Exchange e-mail and SharePoint collaboration servers seemed an obvious fit, because Microsoft's customers were already using it.
But as the development progressed in the labs, it became even more obvious that Sybari's product would make just as good an addition to the whole of Microsoft's security lineup, said Mike Nash, head of the company's security business and technology unit.
"Microsoft has come, as a company, to really believe in using what we sell and selling what we use," Nash said. "One company that we have used a lot is Sybari."
Signed and sealed
Microsoft has bought up key companies with an eye to offering security add-ons for Windows systems and company networks.
- Company: Based East Northport, N.Y. Privately held
- Products: Software to filter viruses and spam on networks. Antivirus engine not included
- Deal: Acquisition, pending regulatory approval
- Date: February 2005
- Plans: Antivirus and antispam tool for e-mail and collaboration servers
- Company: Based in New York. Privately owned
- Products: Software to combat spyware, pop-ups and spam
- Deal: Acquisition, now a subsidiary
- Date: December 2004
- Plans: An anti-spyware product (in beta) for desktop Windows
- Company: Based Bucharest, Romania. Privately held, with 100 staff
- Products: RAV antivirus engine
- Deal: Sale of technology and intellectual property
- Date: June 2003
- Plans: Paid antivirus add-on for Windows; to integrate with Sybari software
On Tuesday, that seed culminated in the announcement that Microsoft. It's the company's third security-focused deal in 18 months, and a sign that the company is getting serious about security. First, Microsoft silenced about the safety of its own products with its Trustworthy Computing push. Now, with the acquisitions, it has moved into position to become a player in the corporate security market.
Sybari slots in the final piece needed for Microsoft to create a software and services package to combat e-mail threats such as, said John Pescatore, an Internet security analyst at market research firm Gartner.
"They have all the pieces together now, but it is going to take a couple of years before companies will consider the offerings," Pescatore said.
With the, Microsoft picked up the technology and staff to develop an antivirus "engine," or core software that recognizes malicious code. When it picked up in December 2004, it gained a network for gathering threat reports and anti-spyware programs for the desktop.
Sybari's Antigen software allows Microsoft's GeCad-based antivirus engine, and similar competing software, to be used to scan incoming e-mail and instant messages before they enter a company's network.
"Microsoft has already said that they plan to offer a service in the antivirus space," Pescatore said. "This gives them the ability to offer the product to enterprises."
The earlier deals gave Microsoft technology that it could fold into its core Windows operating system and Office products. But the Sybari