2005 was an interesting year for messaging in many respects, with a variety of new product announcements and advances to combat spam and spyware, address regulatory and data retention challenges, and so forth. However, of all the developments, the most important in my opinion was the spate of acquisitions that took place last year and are continuing. Symantec, Microsoft and a host of other companies went on a buying spree, acquiring companies that will help to bolster the breadth and depth of their offerings in the messaging space. That buying spree continues into the New Year with Symantec's acquisition of IMlogic last week.While the acquisitions are interesting in and of themselves, they reflect changes in the messaging landscape, both for organizations that use e-mail and other messaging technologies, as well as for the vendors themselves.For organizations that increasingly rely on messaging, the acquisitions reflect the demand they are creating for integrated messaging capabilities that can be managed from a single interface. Because an organization must juggle a number of capabilities in order to make messaging work effectively - anti-virus, anti-spam, anti-spyware, content filtering, archiving, instant messaging threat prevention, disaster recovery, backup, VoIP and other capabilities - managing multiple vendors is becoming much more difficult. Have eight or 10 messaging management capabilities and as many vendors, each with different upgrade cycles and potential incompatibilities between products running in the same network, is no easy feat for IT departments that are often given an insufficient budget to meet all of their organizations' needs.For vendors, the acquisitions represent a raising of the bar, particularly for smaller vendors that offer specialized messaging capabilities. While many of these smaller vendors will continue to do well moving forward, I expect to see alliances between many of the smaller vendors that will emulate the integrated messaging management capabilities offered by larger vendors that have acquired niche players. Plus, I doubt that the pace of acquisitions will abate anytime soon.What do you think were the leading developments in the messaging industry during 2005 and what do you expect for 2006? I'd appreciate hearing your thoughts at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org.