Symantec Corp.'s acquisition of SSL VPN maker SafeWeb Inc. for $26 million in cash follows several recent acquisitions in this nascent but growing part of the VPN market. SSL VPNs promise to reduce the cost and some of the complexities of deploying virtual private networks by eliminating the need to install VPN software on user systems and connect directly through the Web browser.
By the first quarter of next year, Symantec plans to offer the SafeWeb SSL VPN as a standalone device. Later next year, the company says it will integrate the SSL VPN capability into the next version of its Gateway Security Appliances.
Symantec's acquisition trails Netscreen Technologies Inc.'s purchase of SSL VPN maker Neoteris Inc. for $265 million in a stock and cash deal. Also, in July application traffic vendor F5 Networks Inc. purchased the assets of SSL VPN vendor uRoam Inc. for $25 million in cash.
Analysts say these acquisitions will force traditional VPN providers, such as Nortel and Cisco, to move more quickly into the SSL VPN market. "We definitely see SSL VPNs as a growth area," says Eric Ogren, a senior analyst at the Yankee Group.