Blue Coat second company to buy Crossbeam Systems in recent weeks

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Blue Coat Systems Monday announced an agreement to acquire Crossbeam Systems for an undisclosed amount by year-end. This would mark the second time Crossbeam has been acquired in 2012, with private equity firm Thoma Bravo acquiring it just last month.

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Blue Coat makes Web security and WAN optimization gear, and Crossbeam is known for its specialized high-end X-Series hardware that supports software of several third-party security vendors, including Check Point, McAfee, IBM, Imperva, Sophos and Trend Micro. Blue Coat President and COO David Murphy says there are no plans to change this security software support, and in fact Blue Coat will be looking at how to expand into other application areas, such as forensics and analysis.

The Crossbeam X-Series platform does not currently support Blue Coat security applications but that appears likely to change. Murphy says Blue Coat will continue to offer its traditional line of products in any event.

Murphy points out that Blue Coat has approximately 15,000 customers, while Crossbeam's number can be counted as "several hundred." Known Crossbeam customers are BT, Cell C, Motel 6, NTT Globe Telecom and Volkswagen. Blue Coat is interested tapping Crossbeam's telecom provider customers for more business once the acquisition is finalized.

As for Thomas Bravo flipping Crossbeam to Blue Coat just a month after buying the company, Murphy would only say that Blue Coat had long been interested in acquiring Crossbeam, but that it hadn't engaged in any bidding war earlier. Murphy says that investment firms can move quickly, and that it's viewed as positive that Thoma Bravo went through the acquisition process since a lot of necessary disclosures and vetting have just taken place. He declines to say how profitable this brief ownership of Crossbeam will have been for Thoma Bravo.

Ellen Messmer is senior editor at Network World, an IDG publication and website, where she covers news and technology trends related to information security. Twitter: @MessmerE. Email: emessmer@nww.com.

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