Microsoft buys VPN vendor

Whale Communications acquisition will add new capabilities to ISA Server

Microsoft plans to acquire virtual private network vendor Whale Communications, a move that will add new capabilities to Microsoft's Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) Server product.

Whale, based in Rosh Haayin, Israel, sells a security appliance that can be used to give employees access to applications while they are outside of the corporate firewall. The 8-year-old company has offices in the U.S., the U.K., and France.

Earlier this year, the two companies began offering on a product that combined Microsoft's ISA Server 2004 with Whale's Intelligent Application Gateway.

That collaboration ultimately led to the acquisition, said Ted Kummert, corporate vice president of the Security, Access and Solutions Division at Microsoft. "We got a lot of positive feedback from customers on that offering," he said.

Whale's products have a number of capabilities not presently offered in the ISA Server, including the ability to make VPN (virtual private network) connections based on the SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) protocol, as well as software that allows the product to be integrated with business applications.

"Our intent is to bring these together as one secure access offering," Kummert said, referring to the ISA Server and Whale's technology.

Though Kummert would not say when this combined product was expected, it seems most likely to appear in a follow-up to the ISA Server 2006, expected by September. This combined product will be sold as software, and not as an appliance, he added.

The transaction is still subject to regulatory approval, Kummert said. He would not say how much Microsoft will pay for the company, or when the acquisition is expected to be completed.

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