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Cisco continued its recent shopping spree on Tuesday, snapping up security
software-as-a-service player ScanSafe for approximately $183 million in cash
and retention-based incentives.

The acquisition of the privately held ScanSafe marks the latest in a recent
spate of acquisitions made by networking behemoth Cisco, included among them
the purchase
of video conferencing giant Tandberg
for $3 billion. The ScanSafe deal
also comes just two weeks after Barracuda
Networks bought Purewire
,
another purveyor of security in a SaaS model.
Purewire’s services are expected to complement the existing Barracuda line of
content security and application firewall appliances, according to those
companies.

For its part, Cisco says that the ScanSafe’s security services will help to
broaden Cisco’s existing on-premises Web security offering as well as extend
its reach into cloud-based services.

“With the acquisition of ScanSafe, Cisco is executing on our vision to build a
borderless network security architecture that combines network and cloud-based
services for advanced security enforcement," said Tom Gillis, vice
president and general manager of Cisco’s Security Technology Business Unit
(STBU), in a statement.

Cisco says it plans to integrate ScanSafe’s service with its new Cisco
AnyConnect VPN Client. ScanSafe also brings to the table a global network of
carrier-grade data centers and multitenant architecture, which Cisco plans to
leverage to provide cloud security services, the company said.

Cisco is subscribing to the belief that customers will not jump whole hog into
cloud computing—basically turning all their data, applications and systems into
Web-based services—but rather will maintain a hybrid mix of cloud, hosted and
on-premises solutions. Cisco’s on-premises Web security solutions came in large
part through acquisition as well, when the company scooped up IronPort for its
security appliance in early 2007.

Many solution providers, still figuring out where they will fit on the cloud
continuum, agree that a hybrid model is the immediate future.

“Cloud is a great alternative to premised-based solutions, but with each pro
comes a con, and cloud computing still has a handful of cons, not to mention
the massive mountain of … adoption-adverse businesses who don’t care how ‘cool’
it is,” said Richard Anderson, CEO at Next
Level Café, a solution provider in Burnsville, Minn.