RSA, EMC Corp.'s security division, on Thursday said it is acquiring privately held Tablus, a provider of data-loss prevention products and services. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Tablus, of San Mateo, Calif., is one of a number of small start-ups that have been angling for enterprise IT dollars in a small, but growing, niche of the security market.
EMC, of Hopkinton, Mass., said it plans to integrate Tablus' Content Sentinel and Content Alarm products with its RSA division's encryption and information management offerings. How exactly that integration will be handled remains to be seen, however.
The acquisition gives EMC a foothold in the emerging market for products that stop sensitive information from leaving corporate networks. The rash of stolen laptops, security breaches and lost backup tapes in the last few years has brought the task of securing such data to the forefront and made it a key issue for senior management as well security professionals. (For more on the data storage implications of this announcement, please see "EMC buys Tablus for data classification and security" by Beth Pariseau on SearchStorage.com.)
High-profile incidents such as the theft of a hard drive belonging to the Veterans' Administration and this week's revelation that a laptop containing personal information on VeriSign Inc. employees was stolen from a car also have shown that the problem is not limited to small organizations or those without the budget to put proper controls in place
Aside from the security aspects of the problem, one of the major stumbling blocks in putting a data-loss prevention product in place is classification of the company's data. Determining which data needs strict controls and which can be less closely watched is a time-consuming task and one that can be layered with inter-departmental battles. Tablus' products help with this classification and enable customers to identify sensitive intellectual property. The products also have the ability to monitor email and other network traffic and enforce policies relating to what content can go where.
Data-loss prevention products have gained in popularity in recent years, but the vendor landscape is still populated mainly by start-ups such as Vericept, Vontu, Reconnex and a handful of others. EMC is the first major IT vendor to get into the market. That is one of the things that made the Tablus deal attractive to RSA, officials said.
Consolidation in the market is inevitable said Paul Stamp a principal analyst with Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research Inc. In December, WebSense started the trend by acquiring PortAuthority Technologies. Tablus was probably acquired at a bargain price since it doesn't have the market footprint that Vericept and Vontu has, Stamp said.
"This is not a technology that can stand on its own," Stamp said. "Tablus has really good technology but they haven't really captured the imagination of the enterprise."
Stamp said to look for larger security vendors to acquire or develop similar technology as part of an overall information lifecycle management suite as enterprises struggle to lock down systems and protect sensitive data.
"Data leakage is a symptom of companies not knowing where their data is and where it is going," Stamp said.
The data-loss prevention market "is growing to critical mass and beginning to be tracked and identified by analysts…though no large company has addressed this space yet," said Dennis Hoffman, vice president and chief strategy officer at RSA.
If history is any guide, the Tablus acquisition may start a run on similar deals in the next few months as other large IT providers look for a way in.
News Editor Robert Westervelt contributed to this report.