What does the future hold for Cisco and Sourcefire?

Cisco made a bold move into the security arena this week, with the announcement that it's acquiring Sourcefire for $2.7 billion.

Cisco is buying Sourcefire. Cisco has dabbled in security, but this acquisition moves them squarely into the security arena, and makes it a major player. Cisco now has a security strategy, and Sourcefire has deeper pockets and broader reach, so there’s a lot of potential.

The deal itself is huge. Cisco is spending about $2.7 billion in cash to purchase the respected vendor of intrusion detection and intrusion prevention tools. The purchase price is a 30 percent premium over Sourcefire’s closing price as of Monday, and reflects additional retention incentives to keep key Sourcefire talent.

In a press release announcing the agreement to acquire Sourcefire, Cisco explained, “Mobility, cloud and the evolution of the "Internet of Everything" are drastically changing today's IT security landscape, making traditional disparate products insufficient to protect organizations from dynamic threats. Sourcefire delivers innovative, highly automated security through continuous awareness, threat detection and protection across its industry-leading portfolio, including next-generation intrusion prevention systems, next-generation firewalls, and advanced malware protection.”

Dwayne Melancon, chief technology officer for Tripwire, shared some thoughts on the acquisition. “This is an interesting and bold move, especially given the fact that Cisco has been quiet on the security front for quite some time. If Cisco can demonstrate the ability to integrate Sourcefire without breaking it, this combination has great potential.”

"Cisco's acquisition of Sourcefire will help accelerate the realization of our vision for a new model of security across the extended network," said Martin Roesch, founder and chief technology officer of Sourcefire. "We're excited about the opportunities ahead to expand our footprint via Cisco's global reach, as well as Cisco's commitment to support our pace of innovation in both commercial markets and the open source community."

So, what does the future hold for Cisco and Sourcefire? Sourcefire’s respect in the marketplace, the loyal community of Snort users, and it’s role in the open source community could all be significant assets for Cisco. If Cisco fumbles, though, loyal Sourcefire customers could be frustrated and left searching for an alternative.

Melancon offered some words of caution for Sourcefire customers. “Given Cisco's sporadic history with security products, I'd encourage Sourcefire customers to take a ‘speak up and be heard’ stance rather than a ‘wait and see’ position to increase the chances that they're happy with the outcome.”

The acquisition is expected to officially close in the second half of 2013, pending shareholder approval and regulatory review.

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