Symantec (NASDAQ:SYMC) bought itself a growth platform -- and an abundance of complementary products -- with its $1.03 billion purchase of Altiris (NASDAQ:ATRS). But the security-software specialist still has other problems that this deal will not solve. If anything, it could actually be yet another distraction.

First, let's look at what Symantec has bought. Founded in 1998, Altiris builds software for endpoint management among a company's sprawl of desktops, laptops, mobile devices, and servers. Its key functions include tracking and monitoring information technology (IT) assets, as well as diagnosing problems and vulnerabilities. It works on various platforms, including those from Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM). Altiris' work is becoming more important as the proliferation of various mobile devices makes IT environments ever more complex.

Of course, this is good news for Altiris. For example, in the fiscal third quarter, the company posted a 15% increase in revenues to $48.8 million. Despite competition from big players such as IBM (NYSE:IBM), Altiris holds its own in its marketplace.

Altiris offers Symantec several synergistic opportunities. Altiris's comprehensive assessment of IT resources, not to mention seamless upgrades, makes it even easier for Symantec to secure an IT environment. Symantec's security software, meanwhile, can "disinfect" problems along a network's various endpoints while enforcing compliance rules.

The takeaway
Symantec has missed its own sales forecasts for the past two quarters, and the current guidance is weak. In fact, things have been lackluster for the past couple of years. A big part of the problem seems to have come from another of its past deals -- its purchase of Veritas.

In the meantime, the company is facing even tougher competition in the security space, as companies such as IBM and EMC (NYSE:EMC) bulk up their offerings with deals of their own. Naturally, Microsoft is also getting more aggressive.

Even though Altiris offers a lot of benefits, it would seem to make more sense for Symantec to focus on solving its current problems. Instead, management will now have new complexities to deal with, as well as many more risks.

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Fool contributor Tom Taulli does not own shares mentioned in this article. He is currently ranked 1,623 out of more than 21,000 players in Motley Fool CAPS, the Fool's investor-intelligence community. Come and join the party at CAPS -- it won't cost you a penny.