Symark and BeyondTrust – best acquisition ever

When it comes to mergers and acquisitions in the security world, often it is one big fish snapping up a little fish. This is usually because of one piece of technology that might be useful in the future. Rarely do you see an acquisition that merges complementary technologies so completely, but this is exactly the case when it comes to Symark and BeyondTrust.

On Monday, Symark announced that it will acquire BeyondTrust for an undisclosed amount of money, and operate both companies under the BeyondTrust name. The deal, finalized back in August, but withheld from the public until now, will completely merge the two companies.

This acquisition is unique, and one of the best ever in our opinions, because of how the offerings from the two companies merge. So what makes this acquisition better than any of the others? When it comes to BeyondTrust and Symark, each company focused on network security from two angles.

BeyondTrust centered on secure desktop computing. They did this with Privilege Manager, which focuses on The Principle of Least Privilege. In short, Privilege Manager keeps users from running with administrator privileges, while maintaining access to services and applications that required administrator rights to use. However, BeyondTrust’s offerings were mainly for the desktop, with limited backend access, and it only worked well in Windows environments.

In contrast, Symark offers the PowerSeries. The PowerSeries includes PowerBroker, PowerKeeper, and PowerADvantage. The kicker here is that the PowerSeries works with Windows, UNIX, Linux, and Windows environments. PowerBroker (UNIX or Linux) granularly delegates what tasks can be performed as the root password and by whom. So if a user needs access to SUDO, but only for a certain task, this can be allowed, without granting full system access.

PowerADvantage is an agent that will reside on UNIX or Linux systems and communicates with Active Directory (AD). This will allow an administrator to control authentication and policy enforcement on both platforms, essentially linking AD and LDAP.
PowerKeeper is an appliance that ties the security of PowerBroker and PowerADvantage offerings into one, and covers other privileged accounts, such as application-to-application (A2A), application-to-database (A2DB) connections, AS/400 connections, as well as Cisco Enable.

Yet, with all of this, Symark had nothing for the desktop. So their purchase of BeyondTrust would make sense, as it completely rounds out the coverage. However, unlike other acquisitions, there is no forced merger of technologies. An IT shop could have purchased either offering separately, and watched them work on their network with no problems.

The Tech Herald recently spoke to both Matt Collier, the Executive Vice President of Symark, and John Moyer, who is the CEO of BeyondTrust. Both were extremely happy to announce the news and see great things coming out of the deal.

“There are just complementary aspects to this traction all over the place, both for customers and internal operations,” Moyer told us. “When I look at what customers are getting out of this, they’re going to get a stronger vendor to do business with.”

Not that there was anything wrong with either vendor before the acquisition, he added. Both companies were profitable before the deal. Symark has grown steadily over the last two years, and BeyondTrust almost doubled its business over the last year.

“With both companies being able to operate independent of each other, and doing nicely on their own, there’s no point to make any draconian changes here. We’re really happy with the acquisition, and the way the integration is going to go,” said Collier.

For the rest of 2009, both companies will operate as separate entities, with most of the final merge taking place in Q1 2010. Considering the current state of the U.S. business economy, the fact that there is no reduction in workforce on either side is a huge bonus.

In truth, both companies are actively hiring, with an office opened in the Washington D.C. area, and new staff to run it. The D.C. office is the start of an active push to increase BeyondTrust’s client base in the federal government sector.

Moyer, who will move from CEO of BeyondTrust into Executive Vice President and GM role over Windows Business in the new company, said that the move is just a continuation of what he was already doing. Only that he “gets to do it as part of a much larger organization, with much greater resources.”

“If you’re looking at this from a BeyondTrust perspective,” commented Collier, “not only are you stable and growing and things are moving forward as they have been with you after this acquisition, but you’re also not changing your name. The company that’s buying you is taking your name.”

As mentioned, thanks to the acquisition, there is no need to purchase Privilege Manager or the Power Series separately. They’ll come as a packed deal, as BeyondTrust moves forward with their focus on The PowerSeries Management Console (PSMC). The PSMC will link Privilege Manager with all of the PowerSeries offerings into one platform, and represents just one aspect of the future growth planned for the new BeyondTrust.

“This is just the beginning of our growth strategy,” Collier said. “We’re already looking at other acquisition opportunities, and we’ll continue to acquire companies. This is part of an aggressive growth strategy for us, and we’re very happy with this first step.”

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