MessageLabs to acquire Omnipod

Acquisition will accelerate MessageLabs move into the IM market

MessageLabs announced Tuesday it has entered into an agreement to buy Omnipod, a company specializing in hosted secure IM (instant message) services.

The acquisition will allow MessageLabs to "accelerate" its moves into the IM market and provide a suite of managed e-mail and Web services, said David Hahn group product manager for MessageLabs. The company specializes in e-mail security, antispam, antivirus and Web-filtering services.

Terms of the acquisition were not released, and the deal remains subject to shareholder approval, the companies said in a press release. MessageLabs and Omnipod have been partners since December 2003 when they agreed to market each other's products.

"Our broader vision is to ensure the integrity of information regardless of the protocol that it moves on," Hahn said. "Organizations are starting to see the same kind of risks to their business or threats that we've become sort of familiar with across e-mail and starting to see those threats on IM."

Omnipod, a privately held company established in 1999 and based in New York, offers encrypted IM and file-transfer services. The company recently released Professional Online Desktop 3.5, its software package that allows for centralized storage of files, transmission of SMS (short message service) to mobile devices and control of who sends instant messages.

While employees at many companies are using IM services unofficially, more and more companies are officially adopting an IM system after realizing the efficiencies that can be gained, said Graham Titterington, a principal analyst at Ovum Ltd. Those companies may want services with features that allow for compliance with government regulations and their own policies, he said.

The acquisition by MessageLabs forms a coherent picture of managed services for the company, Titterington said.

"It's [MessageLabs] buying the technology so that it can become a more comprehensive communications management player," Titterington said.

MessageLabs will invest to further develop Omnipod's enterprise IM client not only from a features and functionality standpoint, but also to enhance the way it works with data centers and back-end infrastructure as well. "I think they give us additional skills and expertise around IM," Hahn said.

In the second quarter of the next calendar year, Hahn said MessageLabs is planning to launch a proxy-based IM "hygiene" service that will have the ability to scan IM traffic whether its on Omnipod's proprietary network or a public network, Hahn said.

MessageLabs had revenue of $67 million for the financial year ending in July, its fifth year of growth over 50 percent, the company said.