Symantec's recent agreement to acquire IMlogic begins the predicted convergence in the instant messaging (IM) security market, Gartner has reported. Companies have been advised by the analyst firm to expect similar acquisitions in the sector to continue and, as a result, make only tactical investments in stand-alone IM security and management tools.
The IMlogic acquisition deal marks the beginning of the convergence of the markets for "IM hygiene" technologies - which enable firms to manage and secure IM usage in enterprise environments, according to Gartner analyst Peter Firstbrook.
Gartner anticipates broad convergence, with virtually all the stand-alone providers of such tools being acquired by providers of broader security offerings. By the end of 2007, the analyst predicts that there will be a 90 percent probability that IM hygiene tools will be subsets of communications security and management infrastructure.
"The planned IMlogic acquisition is a smart move by Symantec, which will immediately gain a strong presence in the increasingly important IM hygiene market. Gartner estimates, based on threat growth in the fourth quarter of 2005, that this market will grow by as much as 200 percent in 2006. IMlogic is the leading dedicated vendor of IM security products, and will bring Symantec best-of-breed competencies in IM threat detection, compliance workflow and content inspection," said Firstbrook.
He added that IMlogic is also a good "fit" for Symantec, because of its strong focus on security and its integration with Symantec's KVS Enterprise Vault product: "Moreover, IMlogic's technology is complementary with that of other recent Symantec acquisitions in the communications market, including Brightmail, Veritas Software and TurnTide, with very little overlap in functionality."
However, despite these synergies, Gartner warns that this acquisition carries some risks. It points out that IMlogic, like Brightmail, has followed an aggressive original equipment manufacturer (OEM) strategy.
"Symantec intends to maintain IMlogic's position as an OEM, but will find this difficult because it now competes in so many markets. Symantec must also integrate IMlogic's technologies -- a process that will likely not be complete before 2007," added Firstbrook.
Gartner advises enterprises to recognize that IM security is a key requirement when staff are using public IM networks. However, it adds that dedicated IM hygiene products may not be strictly necessary for firms that are not subject to messaging regulation.
"Make only tactical investments in dedicated IM hygiene technologies through YE06, due to ongoing market convergence. Demand road maps from incumbent or candidate e-mail anti-spam/antivirus providers," Gartner stated.
Current and prospective Symantec/IMlogic customers are advised to continue to consider IMlogic's products, but demand details of Symantec's plans for integration.