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
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 salesforce.com
Cisco's take on cloud computing is just as interesting to me. Last week, one of the company's security bloggers, Seth Hanford, posted an interesting piece about Microsoft's
Hanford makes several good points in the piece. My favorite: "What remains to be seen is whether consumer expectation and assumptions about the nature of cloud computing can be satisfied by companies that only offer hosted services, or those that do not include cost-prohibitive design decisions."
Precisely. Expectations are difficult to satisfy under the very best conditions. With so much hype attached to cloud computing, providing satisfactory protection may very well be impossible -- a delicious irony.
Cloud computing may not be a security panacea, but Cisco will pay for it anyway. Why take a chance when you're the market leader, and blessed with tens of billions in cash and securities?
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Fool contributor Tim Beyers didn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. The Motley Fool is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. The Fool's disclosure policy is checking the couch for spare change.