IBM Locks Up a Deal for IT Security Firm BigFix


IBM (IBM) continues to gallop through acquisitions, especially in the software segment. So far this year, the company has purchased major companies like Cast Iron Systems, Sterling Commerce and Coremetrics.

And yes, this week IBM has made another key deal: the purchase of BigFix, a top player in the red-hot security market.

While the deal terms were not disclosed, the rumor is that the price tag for the privately held firm came to $400 million or so. The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter, pending regulatory approval and the satisfaction of standard closing conditions.

A Look at BigFix

Founded in 1997, BigFix has built a solid business in end-point security protection. The company's software makes it relatively easy to automate the protection and compliance of desktops, laptops, hand-held devices and servers, and offers coverage of the major platforms like Windows, UNIX, Linux, Mac and even virtual operating systems.

The protection is in real-time, which is critical in dealing with the many threats to enterprise technologies. In terms of scalability, BigFix can update fixes and software updates on 500,000 machines within minutes.

BigFix's primary focus is on small and medium-size companies, and it has more than 700 customers. No doubt, its clients don't have the resources for to support large information technology infrastructures. Yet they still need to provide a high-level of security and compliance, which makes outsourcing those complex matters an attractive solution.

Capitalizing on Security

A key goal for IBM is to create a so-called smarter data center: Think of it as a command center that helps companies manage their IT needs. Of course, this requires extensive technologies -- and IBM has the capital to buy them.

More importantly, the company continues to focus on quality targets. "I've long held that BigFix is a great deal for anyone acquiring it," said Nick Selby, managing director of Trident Risk Management. "The company's platform is truly innovative, and reduces the time involved and cost of patching and otherwise adjusting endpoints. Even from merely a power management standpoint the technology is superb -- when taken in the context of the entirety of the platform, Big Blue is better off for landing BigFix."

The deal is also IBM's 11th in the security sector: Some of the other transactions include Internet Security Systems, Ounce Labs and Watchfire. With all these acquisitions, IBM will surely be putting increased pressure on the incumbents such as McAfee (MFE), EMC (EMC) and Symantec (SYMC).