The planned acquisition of PostX significantly improves IronPort Systems' position in the consolidating e-mail gateway security market. Gartner expects more merger-and-acquisition activity as this market continues to mature.
On 1 November 2006, IronPort Systems, a provider of Internet gateway security products, announced that it will acquire PostX, a provider of e-mail encryption technology.
The planned acquisition of PostX will eliminate a significant IronPort weakness: the absence of integrated encryption capabilities. Compliance demands have led many enterprises to consider e-mail encryption. Increasing adoption of Transport Layer Security (TLS) is simplifying business-to-business (B2B) e-mail encryption, but business-to-consumer (B2C) requirements will continue to justify additional investment in encryption capabilities. PostX's strong B2C capabilities make it a good fit for future requirements.
The PostX acquisition deal is good news for IronPort and its current and prospective customers, even though product integration will likely not be complete until 2Q07. The acquisition will make IronPort's compliance offerings more competitive with archival Secure Computing/CipherTrust's, as well as with the new Symantec Mail Security 8300 Series and offerings from providers such as Clearswift and Tumbleweed Communications. All these providers either differentiate themselves with content inspection or encryption capabilities.
E-mail encryption is increasingly a feature of a broader e-mail security solution, as opposed to a "point" solution. The IronPort/PostX deal will also pressure challengers in the market (such as Barracuda Networks, Trend Micro and Sophos) to offer integrated encryption and content inspection. Moreover, Gartner does not expect a significant independent market for e-mail encryption to exist after 2009. The IronPort/PostX deal therefore puts pressure on the other stand-alone encryption vendors, such as Zix and Voltage Security, to find buyers before the current acquisition cycle ends.
Enterprises that integrate PostX with BorderWare Technologies, Sophos, McAfee and Messagelabs for anti-spam/virus protection will be impacted most by this acquisition. IronPort must continue to honor PostX's contractual obligations, but these vendors may not be comfortable with a support relationship with a major competitor and will likely migrate to a competitive encryption solution. Enterprises using these providers' solutions should demand road maps detailing their plans for addressing this acquisition.
Enterprises that integrate PostX products with other providers' e-mail security offerings: Do not make plans for immediate changes, because IronPort will continue to be bound by contractual agreements and to offer stand-alone PostX products. However, consider switching to IronPort at the next technology "refresh" to reduce administration overhead and costs, or adopting new encryption technology from your incumbent provider as it become available.
Current and prospective IronPort customers: Regard this acquisition as a positive enhancement that improves IronPort's competitive position. Consider adopting integrated PostX encryption when it becomes available.
"MarketScope for E-Mail Encryption, 2006” — Enterprises must understand their specific business requirements for e-mail encryption when selecting a vendor. By Arabella Hallawell and Eric Ouellet
"Magic Quadrant for E-Mail Security Boundary, 2006” — The e-mail security boundary market remains crowded, with spam and virus filtering becoming commodities and differentiation largely occurring in high-end features. By Peter Firstbrook and Arabella Hallawell
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