RealTime IT News

Symantec Extends IT Management With Latest Buy

Symantec Corp.  today took a bigger step in the IT management software market, agreeing to acquire Altiris, Inc. for $830 million in cash.

Altiris stockholders will receive $33 per share of Altiris common stock in cash, a 22 percent premium over Friday's closing price of $27.14. The deal will close in Symantec's second quarter.

Purchasing Altiris will give Symantec a bigger slice of the IT management market, and reinforces the company's evolution from a security software pure-play to a more well-rounded provider of IT software.

Though not one of the so-called Big 4 management software vendors -- IBM , HP , CA  and BMC  -- Altiris is a contender.

The vendor sells software that helps businesses manage network-based endpoints, from mobile devices, laptops and desktops to servers and storage machines.

Altiris' software products manage, patch and reconfigure IT assets on the fly without prompting or supervision, freeing up IT staffers to perform other essential management tasks. The company relies on a strong partner base that includes IBM, Dell and Microsoft to help sell its software.

Moreover, the company has built a respectable portfolio of vulnerability assessment and remediation software to fend off security threats and ensure compliance with industry regulations; a focus on security software is something Symantec holds dearly.

John W. Thompson, chairman and chief executive officer of Symantec, said Altiris' software will help Symantec customers better manage and enforce security policies, identify and protect against threats and repair and service assets.

"The most secure endpoint is a well managed endpoint, and that shared perspective will drive our companies in the years to come," Thompson said on a conference call Monday morning.

Symantec demonstrated interest in IT management in 2003 with the acquisitions of storage management player PowerQuest and PC management vendor ON Technology.

But the company chiefly spent the next couple years bolstering its security software portfolio until 2005, when it halted the high-tech world by swallowing storage management giant Veritas Software.

That deal also signaled to the world that Symantec was interested in broadening its IT horizons by buying companies of scale, something Thompson alluded to on the conference call today when explaining the Altiris bid and future purchases.

"What is important to us is companies of scale," Thompson said. "Given our size, buying a little piece of technology here or there is interesting, but doesn't always give us the top-line leverage that we might need.

"A company of Altiris' size, with its growth rate and our growth profile, is a natural complement to our technology strategy and underpins our growth strategy of the company."

Symantec's bid comes a week before the kick-off of the RSA Conference 2007 show in San Francisco, where analysts are expecting the company to launch new features for its network access control software.

Later this year, Symantec will roll out its next-generation security software portfolio, code-named Hamlet.

This platform will likely be met with stiff competition from Microsoft's ForeFront security portfolio, which the software giant created to fortify the defenses of its Windows Vista operating system, whose consumer version were released today.