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HP buys workgroup expertise

Hewlett-Packard acquires the networking business unit of workgroup specialist Symantec for $30 million.

Hewlett-Packard (HWP) has acquired the networking business unit of workgroup specialist Symantec (SYMC) for $30 million.

The deal encompasses Symantec's Norton Administrator for Networks (NAN), Norton Desktop Administrator (NDA), and Expose server management software products. Symantec's NAN management tools are already incorporated in HP's recently released Professional Suite for LAN management. The two companies have partnered together since 1994.

The $30 million total will be reached via a "stream" of payments to Symantec. Symantec will incur a one-time charge of $8 to $10 million as a result of the sale.

HP gains a LAN (local area network) management software component to add to its expertise in enterprise network management via the OpenView set of tools. The company also obtains more functionality for management of Microsoft Windows NT networks, a booming market that all management players are gunning for.

"There are just a lot of benefits as you look at it," said Olivier Helleboid, general manager of HP's network and system management division.

Symantec may have found the management road a tough one with deep-pocketed competitors to contend with, such as Intel, Microsoft, and Novell.

"They weren't establishing themselves as an independent management vendor," said Rick Villars, an analyst for market researcher International Data Corporation, of Symantec. The company can now focus its resources on its antivirus and security tools, software for remote and mobile users, and its nascent Java and Internet tools business.

Villars said the acquisition may give HP a jump on rivals Tivoli Systems and Computer Associates in management of Windows NT networks. This advantage could be especially useful to HP now that the company has announced a version of its OpenView Network Node Manager and complementary tools for the popular Microsoft platform.

Symantec's 85 employees will remain in their Santa Monica, California, headquarters and become part of HP's Network and System Management business unit. The next versions of Symantec's management tools will come out with OpenView branding in the second half of this year. Symantec will continue to sell the products until then. HP will take over service and support of Symantec's management software customers.