Intel subsidiary McAfee has agreed to buy database security vendor Sentrigo for an undisclosed sum.

The proposed acquisition would add to the McAfee product line a range of products for monitoring database activity and for detecting and patching security flaws in enterprise databases.

Officials said the deal is expected to close in April, when Sentrigo will become part of McAfee’s Risk & Compliance business unit.

The acquisition is the latest move by an established vendor to add database security tools to their product portfolios.

For instance, IBM in 2009 acquired Guardium, a maker of database activity monitoring tools. Similarly, Oracle last year acquired Secerno, a database firewall vendor.

The proposed Sentrigo purchase makes sense for McAfee, said Adrian Lane, an analyst with Securosis. “They needed additional application security capabilities to go along with their endpoint, network and content security pieces,” Lane said. “I think it is a good fit.”

The Sentrigo tools are designed to help companies address threats directed at enterprise databases. The tools monitor databases for suspicious activities, scan them for vulnerabilities and patch potential exploits.

Though overall enterprise demand for such products has not reached the level some experts had predicted a few years ago, interest in the technology remains high, according to vendors and analysts.

“The market has grown the way I thought it would despite a lull [between 2008 and 2009] at the beginning of the market downturn,” Lane said.

While it’s hard to specify the overall market for database security products, “it has clearly passed $100 million,” he added. “That’s better than it sounds as a lot of markets have overinflated numbers to generate hype.”

John Ottman, president and CEO of Application Security, one of the few remaining independent database security vendors, estimates the market for the technology is closer to $250 million and growing fast.

“There’s no question the market is hot and getting hotter,” Ottman said. “We are seeing major expansion from our existing customers and there’s significant growth in the pipeline.”

What’s driving demand is the fact that network and perimeter security tools are not sufficient any longer, he said. Increasingly, there’s a growing need to protect data “where it lives, in the database,” Ottman said.

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