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Websense closed on the acquisition of SurfControl Wednesday, opening the door on a new phase for the company.

The acquisition represents a major milestone in an 18-month journey since Gene Hodges took the helm as CEO of Websense. It was the second major acquisition closing in 2007. The first, Port Authority, was meant to sure up Websense’s ability to prevent internal data leaks.

“Now with the acquisition of SurfControl, we kind of complete the first stage of the strategy and really position Websense for the next round of growth, which is adding the email and messaging security products and also the on-demand service, the software-as-a-service offering from SurfControl,” said Leo Cole is vice president of marketing.

They call the combination “intelligent content protection” – the safeguarding of information from inbound and outbound threats.

The company’s products now span Web security, e-mail and spam filtering and data leak prevention products. SurfControl’s on-demand platform will be used to bolster Websense’s ThreatSeeker technology, which scans more than 600 million Web sites each week and categorizes Web-based security threats. SurfControl’s on-demand platform processes more than 350 million emails per week, and offers Websense more insight into email-based threats such as spam.

“The combination of these two we believe provides an unparalleled repository of the source of mal code on the Internet (among vendors),” Cole said.

There are also plans to supplement SurfControl’s database with information from Websense’s URL database of more than 30 million Web sites, including more than 200,000 high-risk sites, by the first calendar quarter of 2008. In addition, the company will continue to invest in SurfControl’s on-demand products, MailControl and WebDefense.

With SurfControl now officially under its wing, Websense has customer base numbering about 50,000, Cole said. Keeping SurfControl’s customers is an important focus, he added. To that end, Websense has pledged to continue support for SurfControl’s Web filter and mobile filter products through 2011, and customers can renew their annual subscriptions to SurfControl Web Filter and Mobile Filter subscriptions the first time at the same price as the previous subscription.

“We’re supporting this through at least 2011 to give customers time to migrate to a Websense platform,” Cole said. “So there’s no operational impact to customers. They can take their time, work with their resellers to plan a migration.”