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Microsoft Has a Whale of an Appetite

Microsoft announced on Thursday that it is buying out secure access software vendor Whale Communications, in a move aimed at broadening its security offerings to enterprise customers.

Whale, of Fort Lee, N.J., specializes in providing secure sockets layer (SSL) virtual private networking (VPN) security and access, especially for unmanaged devices like remote laptops.

"The ability to extend full Web application functionality to users on unmanaged devices dramatically expands connectivity and facilitates greater communication and data exchange with a range of business partners and customers," say statements on Whale's Web site.

But Microsoft is buying Whale for more than just its existing product lines. "It's really about the [customer's] applications [which are] the heart and soul of the enterprise," says Steve Brown, Microsoft director of product management for security and access solutions.

Whale's Intelligent Application Gateway supports "application-intelligent" policies to govern network integrity assurance "through integrated native endpoint security and access control features and application security through application firewalling capabilities to insulate back-end resources," Whale's site says.

The "application-intelligent" part is key. Whale has an independent internal unit that focuses on developing so-called application-specific "optimizers" for business-critical applications -- software modules designed and preconfigured for specific applications, according to Whale statements.

"It's well beyond SSL VPN," Brown emphasizes. "They have industry-leading and visionary technology."

That's technology that Microsoft plans to integrate with its own enterprise security and access software.

"Whale's Intelligent Application Gateway and Application Optimizers will add complementary SSL VPN and comprehensive application-layer filtering capabilities to Microsoft's existing secure access solutions built around Windows Server and Internet Security and Acceleration Server (ISA Server), which provide site-to-site and remote access VPN and application publishing," states Microsoft's announcement of its intent to acquire Whale.

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.

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