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Cisco Catches a Cloud

Tim Beyers
October 28, 2009

Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO  ) has agreed to pay $183 million in cash to acquire ScanSafe, a digital security provider whose offerings live and work on the Web.

News headlines suggest that security is the story of this deal. They're wrong. Cisco has been acquiring pieces of a security portfolio for years, including an $830 million purchase of IronPort Systems in 2007. IronPort was and still is the major alternative to Secure Computing's gateway security offerings, which are now maintained by McAfee (NYSE: MFE  ) .

What's striking here is that Cisco is buying a cloud-computing service. This isn't software that can be added to its routers or other networking equipment; it's distinct, an off-site suite more akin to what (NYSE: