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Symantec-Juniper Mega-Deal: Merger Preview?

In addition to co-marketing each other's products, the two companies will begin to fortify Juniper's networking wares with Symantec's anti-spam technology, IDS/IPS signatures, and vulnerability information and research. Can a full-fledged merger be far behind?

In the constantly consolidating security space, sometimes cooperative deals don't necessarily result in mergers. That's the message executives from Symantec and Juniper tried to stress this week when discussing their new strategic alliance, but given how comprehensive the pact will eventually be, it's hard to figure why the two vendors wouldn't consider merging.

First announced earlier this month, Juniper and Symantec entered what will begin as a marketing partnership and will eventually include joint product development, particularly around unified threat management (UTM), intrusion protection systems (IPS), and other standards-based, integrated access control and end-point compliance solutions. Juniper's J-Security unit and Symantec's Global Intelligence Network also will collaborate on security and threat research.

The most immediate effect of the agreement is that Symantec will now "recommend" Juniper's current and future integrated security and IDP appliances to new and existing enterprise and managed security services customers, while Juniper will market and sell Symantec security content as part of its Integrated Security Solutions portfolio.

In addition to co-marketing each other's products, the two companies will begin to fortify Juniper's UTM and IDP solutions with Symantec's anti-spam, IDP/IPS signatures and vulnerability information and research. Later, the companies plan to collaborate on antivirus and threat protection solutions. The two also will collaborate on standards-based network enforcement and endpoint compliance tools.

In a press conference after the announcement on Tuesday, Symantec CEO John Thompson and Juniper CEO Scott Kriens each stressed that this is no more than a joint product development and marketing agreement, a message echoed by their lieutenants.

"If a customer is a Symantec shop on the endpoint, the salespeople will recommend Juniper for the rest of their network," says Sanjay Beri, director of product management for Juniper. "A lot of our salespeople and partners already are pitching Symantec now in some areas."

Beri says some joint antispam solutions already are available and that more will be on the way soon.

"We'll see steps within the next 90 to 120 days where some of these integrations will occur, and future integration will depend on what we hear from customers," he says.

But as Symantec's director of product management CJ Desai points out, the goal of the deal is to create unified solutions and convince customers that a Symantec-Juniper security solution should supercede most of whatever other solutions they have on their networks.

"Our two engineering teams will work together to create solutions with full integration between the endpoints and the network and with centralized network management," he says. "We expect to eventually have a single solution that's sold by both companies."

Symantec and Juniper still are forces to be reckoned with in their respective spaces. But in recent months, they've seen their competitiveness challenged as powerhouse vendors, such as Cisco, Microsoft, Oracle and IBM, have dramatically expanded their security presence. As big as they already are independently, with the goal on the table of creating unified security solutions and using them to expand their market reach, can a more comprehensive integration of the two vendors be far behind?

NEXT: Overview of the Symantec-Juniper alliance

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