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Juniper acquires Altor for virtualization security

Juniper Networks acquired Altor Networks, a popular virtualization security vendor, for $95 million today.

Altor makes Virtual Firewall, which took the bronze medal in the security category of our 2009 Virtualization Products of the YearVirtual Firewall 4.0, announced in June, added compliance and automation features, as well as deeper integration with VMware’s VMsafe APIs.

The Juniper-Altor acquisition continues the trend of major vendors buying up smaller companies that sell management tools and other point products for virtual infrastructures. It also raises questions about whether security should be a point product for virtualization.

Back in May, CA’s Andi Mann noted that most virtualization security vendors had either broadened their scope or been acquired by larger companies. But he noted: “It seems that only Altor Networks still plays strongly in the pure-play virtualization security space.”

In light of today’s news, Mann asked, “Is pure-play virtualization security over?”

It sure seems like it is. But is that good for customers?

Virtualization may have started off in one particular department, maybe to consolidate a few servers or for a test and dev lab. Nowadays, however, it’s an integral part of many IT infrastructures — which, thanks to the cloud, are no longer constrained to internal data centers. Organizations shouldn’t look at physical security, virtualization security and cloud security separately. So, the thinking goes, products shouldn’t address physical security, virtualization security and cloud security separately.

Juniper hasn’t specifically come out and said what its plans are for the Altor product, but it appears they’re going down this “all-in-one product” road. From Juniper exec Mark Bauhaus: “This acquisition will allow Juniper to extend its market-leading security position by delivering an integrated, highly-scalable security architecture that protects both physical and virtual systems.”

The problem is, this approach brings us back to the whole “one throat to choke” debate. Do some customers like the all-in-one products that vendors provide? Of course. But a lot of other customers like to pick and choose and cobble together their own solutions to meet their needs. These customers’ options, when it comes to the virtualization security component, are dwindling.

Some more reaction to the Juniper-Altor acquisition news:

Jeff Wilson, Infonetics Research: “Dedicated virt sec went a bit quiet…I think Altor and their contemporaries were just a little early…”

Chenxi Wang, Forrester Research: “Altor fetches $95m, a decent exit for them. Good to see virtualization security co. going places.”

Scott Sanchez, ScaleUp: “I like the Juniper acquisition of Altor. Makes strategic sense. Nice when that happens.”

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