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PGP secures the corporate market

Privacy pioneer Pretty Good Privacy buys Zoomit, which has directory technology that integrates private intranets, public extranets, and the global Internet.

Moving into the corporate market, privacy pioneer Pretty Good Privacy today acquired Zoomit, which has directory technology that integrates private intranets, public extranets, and the global Internet. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Zoomit's directory technology gives PGP its first server-side product and signals that the company, founded by privacy advocate Phil Zimmermann, is serious about pushing into the enterprise market.

"For us to be successful long-term, moving into enterprise privacy is extremely important," said Greg Balla, PGP's senior manager of strategic communications. "Taking privacy into the corporate world requires changes in our technologies, which were designed for individuals and workgroups. The technical challenges become fairly substantial."

PGP encryption software protects data at its source, maintaining privacy. Zoomit's directory technology offers a way for companies to communicate seamlessly by integrating various kinds of directories on heterogeneous corporate networks such as NetWare, Windows NT, and Eudora, to make data sharing easier.

"With Zoomit, the heritage of trust in PGP for providing individual privacy will be extended to protecting corporate assets," said industry analyst Jerry Michalski, managing editor of Release 1.0.

PGP thinks the growth of extranets--with companies opening some of their private data to partners, customers, and suppliers--will boost the need for privacy and data security, so outsiders can see some corporate data but not sensitive or confidential information.

"Pretty Good Privacy and Zoomit together propose a new paradigm where information is protected at its source but available universally," said Tom Steding, PGP president and CEO. PGP intends to deliver a comprehensive privacy and security platform that integrates its encryption technology with existing networks.

Although PGP had sold encryption software into nearly half of the Fortune 100, large customers wanted a server version for scalability, Balla told CNET. With the acquisition of Zoomit and its "meta-directory" technology, PGP can add its cryptography onto a broad platform that makes it easier for network administrators to add security to existing networks.

Pretty Good Privacy plans to develop a series of privacy products for businesses that will integrate into the existing IT infrastructure. PGP Key Server product, due later this year, will deploy and manage public cryptographic keys of hundreds of thousands of users. Key Server will integrate with existing environments, using Zoomit's Meta-Directory.

The Meta-Directory, available immediately, allows organizations to integrate employee and company information--such as sales, email addresses, and human resources--into existing directories, and to determine which individuals and groups have access to the information.

The Meta-Directory is fully interoperable with existing industry standards, including LDAP, HTTP/HTML, DNS, and DHCP. In addition, it seamlessly integrates with existing corporate directories, including Novell Netware 3.1 Bindery, Novell Netware NDS, Banyan Vines, Lotus Notes, Lotus cc:mail, Microsoft NT Domain Controller, and Microsoft Exchange, according to the company.

PGP, which has geared up for its corporate push over the last two months by beefing up its sales staff, expects to announce details of pricing, technical support, and a technology road map within the next month.