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Cisco Secures Itself With Meetinghouse Buy

Cisco Systems  agreed to purchase Meetinghouse Data Communications, a maker of wireless security software, for $43.7 million in cash and stock.

The latest in a string of purchases for the networking giant, Meetinghouse makes AEGIS SecureConnect, a piece of 802.1X security software that allows business customers to restrict computer access to authorized users and host devices trying to tap into corporate networks.

AEGIS SecureConnect will enable Cisco to offer enterprises a single wired and wireless client; typically, having a unified client will help customers steer clear from the cost of running extra software.

Brett Galloway, vice president and general manager of the Wireless Networking Business Unit (WNBU) at Cisco, said in a statement that the company bid for Meetinghouse to help combat the proliferation of unauthorized access to sensitive information.

Galloway said Cisco plans to bundle the Portsmouth, N.H., company's assets into its security portfolio as a natural extension to its Self Defending Network for Network Admission Control (NAC).

The NAC ensures that PCs, laptops, servers and PDAs accessing network resources are protected from hackers, viruses and other security threats.

The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of Cisco's fiscal year 2007. Most of Meetinghouse's 77 employees and the vendor's products will be integrated into the WNBU, reporting to Galloway.

With nearly $25 billion in sales in 2005, Cisco has been anything but bashful when it comes to acquiring companies it needs to fill any of the holes in its broad portfolio.

This includes security products, routers, switches and other gear to keep computers humming.

In 2005, the company made some large purchases to diversify and compete with rival networking giants Nortel Networks , Alcatel  and Juniper Networks .

These included server virtualization specialist Topspin for $250 million and set-top box maker Scientific-Atlanta for $6.9 billion.

This year, Cisco has managed to keep most of the companies it purchases in the $50 million or less range.

Last month, the company bought application development startups Metreos and Audium for $47.8 million to add drag-and-drop application development environments to Cisco's Unified Communications system.

In March, Cisco moved on video surveillance vendor SyPixx Networks for $51 million.