Symantec buys ON Technology Corp. for US$100 million

Symantec Corp. continued to strengthen its standing as a seller of enterprise security technology on Monday, announcing the purchase of ON Technology Corp., a maker of remote PC management technology, for US$100 million in cash.

ON, of Waltham, Mass., is a publicly traded company that makes products designed to enable network administrators to inventory and manage the desktop computers, servers and mobile devices on local- and wide area networks. Under the terms of the deal, Symantec will pay US$4 for each share of ON stock, Symantec said.

Symantec will use ON’s technology to enhance its line of enterprise security administration products, with the goal of giving Symantec customers the ability to spot and patch security holes in their computer network, Symantec said in a statement.

For example, ON’s iCommand product allows administrators to use a Web-based portal to coordinate a variety of activities such as pushing out new operating systems, software applications or security patches to computers or mobile devices on their network, or to remote systems outside of the organization’s firewall, according to ON.

ON’s technology is already being used in conjunction with Symantec’s Ghost software cloning and restoration product to centrally deploy Ghost “images” (snapshots of an operating system or application configuration) that are used to restore a compromised or malfunctioning system, Symantec said.

While Ghost performs many of the same functions as ON’s technology, it lacks features to track and manage large numbers of computers on a network, making it a tough sell for enterprise customers, according to Eric Ogren, an analyst at Yankee Group.

In recent months, Symantec has attempted to make Ghost better-suited for enterprise use. The company released Ghost 8.0 Corporate Edition last week, which included new features for sending out software hot fixes or operating system configuration changes to multiple workstations at once and reduce the amount of bandwidth needed to send Ghost images back and forth over the network, Symantec said. [Please see Symantec adds substance to Ghost.]

With the ON technology, Symantec now has a “network aware” product that can do what Ghost does. If it is successfully integrated into Symantec’s Enterprise Security Architecture, the ON technology will allow Symantec customers to manage network device security from their desktop or from a Web interface over the Internet, Ogren said.

While the purchase of ON will not remake Symantec’s enterprise security business, it will help the company compete against other, larger companies with an interest in network device management, including Microsoft Corp., Ogren said.

Like ON’s products, Microsoft’s Systems Management Server also enables companies to centrally manage software deployment to PCs, servers and mobile devices.

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