Cisco Boosts Cloud Security Capabilities With CloudLock Buy

Network giant will purchase the Massachusetts-based provider of cloud access security broker technology for $293 million.

Cisco will acquire privately held CloudLock Inc. for $293 million in a transaction designed to bolster the network giant’s capabilities in the cloud security space.

Under terms of the deal announced Tuesday, CloudLock’s operations will be folded into Cisco’s Networking and Security Business group once the deal is approved sometime in the first quarter of fiscal year 2017, Cisco said in a statement.

The Waltham, Ma-based CloudLock is a provider of cloud access security broker (CASB) technology designed to help enterprises protect applications and data in the cloud. It’s platform acts as an access and control point for enterprise users attempting to access cloud applications such as Salesforce, Microsoft Office 365, Google Apps, Dropbox, Box and other apps.

CloudLock’s technology allows security administrators to set and enforce policies for enterprise access to data in such applications. It also allows them to discover and monitor any unsanctioned third party cloud applications that employees might be using without the knowledge or blessing of the IT organization.

Gartner defines CASBs as technology that gives security administrators an essential control point for cloud security, visibility and compliance. The analyst firm predicts that by 2020, about 85 percent of large enterprises will use CASBs to broker access to cloud services—a substantial increase from the less than five percent of large organizations that were using the technology as the end of last year.

Much of the demand for the technology is being driven by the growing use of Software-as-a-Service (Saas) applications, such as Salesforce, Google Apps and Office 365. Many of these applications offer administrators little,of the visibility and control available with on-premise applications and services. Cloud access security brokers address that shortcoming, Gartner said in a report released earlier this year.

The planned CloudLock acquisition makes sense for Cisco, says Pete Lindstrom, an analyst with IDC. CASBs are a hot technology and are quickly becoming a fundamental requirement for enterprises, Lindstrom says. “This is a great capability,” he said. “It is essentially application layer access control and monitoring.”

Importantly, CASB’s offer enterprises a way to monitor security in the cloud independently from what the hosted application provider might offer natively with the service, he says. “So you get the separation of responsibilities that auditors like.”

CASBs also give administrators the ability to monitor users and aggregate reports in one place from across all of their cloud applications.

Cisco’s acquisition is similar to moves by other vendors in recent months, Lindstrom said. As an example, he pointed to Microsoft purchase of CASB technology vendor Adallom for $250 million last year. Another example is Blue Coat, which acquired Perspecsys Inc. last July. Symantec has since purchased Blue Coat.

In a statement, Cisco’s vice president of corporate development Rob Salvagno said the purchase would help Cisco build on its Security Everywhere strategy. “CloudLock brings a unique cloud-native, platform and API-based approach to cloud security which allows them to build powerful security solutions that are easy to deploy and simple to manage,” he said.

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Jai Vijayan is a seasoned technology reporter with over 20 years of experience in IT trade journalism. He was most recently a Senior Editor at Computerworld, where he covered information security and data privacy issues for the publication. Over the course of his 20-year … View Full Bio

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