Tripwire acquires nCircle to form new security giant

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You’re going to be hearing the name Tripwire a lot more, and the name nCircle a lot less probably. Tripwire announced today that it is acquiring nCircle—making it one of the biggest companies in information security.

The combined company will be a powerhouse in the security industry. Combined, Tripwire and nCircle have over 500 employees and 7,000 customers spanning 96 countries around the globe. Their combined revenue in 2012 was about $140 million. The new company will rank as a competitor for McAfee, Symantec, EMC, and others in the security and vulnerability management arena.

The combination of Tripwire and nCircle forms a new security powerhouse.

Tripwire isn’t a household name like Symantec or McAfee, but it’s known and respected in information security circles, and it boasts nearly half of the Fortune 500 as clients. The company has been around for over a decade, and initially made its mark with a file integrity product that alerts IT admins when critical files have been altered—a possible sign of exploit or malware attacks. Tripwire has products for identifying and remediating file and configuration changes, and for logging and correlating security events.

Meanwhile, nCircle has established itself as a key player for compliance and risk management. Its nCircle Purecloud service provides clients with a cloud-based, automated vulnerability management tool, and nCircle Benchmark enables CISOs to measure the security performance, and gather relevant, real-world metrics they need to build a business case for new security initiatives.

Historically, security has been seen as a necessary evil, but treated with disdain, or at least indifference in the board room. Seatbelts and airbags are crucial elements in a vehicle, but they’re not sexy selling points, and nobody chooses a car for its seatbelts. Security is necessary, but it doesn’t generate revenue, and it’s much harder to prove or make a case for projects designed to ensure the company doesn’t lose money.

Security is maturing, though. The focus is shifting from a quest for silver bullet solutions, to an understanding that there is no perfect security, and that the real goal is risk management. Companies are beginning to understand that security can complement and enable business objectives.

Rob Enderle, principal analyst with the Enderle Group, shared his thoughts on the deal with me. Enderle cautions that mergers such as these don’t always work out smoothly. “Blending a series of products to get best of breed is very difficult because they typically aren’t designed to work together.”

Richard Stiennon, chief research analyst with IT-Harvest, however, thinks there might be some synergy in this merger. Stiennon told me that the two units are often maintained as separate entities so one can be easily sold off at a profit when the opportunity arises, but he believes that Tripwire and nCircle mesh well to create a stronger, united security firm.

We’ll have to see how the company chooses to structure itself, or present its products and services to clients moving forward. The two companies are not disclosing the terms of the deal. The acquisition is expected to close in April and is subject to the customary closing conditions.

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