Weiss said that another immediate benefit of the merger will be an opportunity for Cisco to expand its abilities to provide data leakage prevention (DLP) protection at the network gateway.
"We'll be looking to leverage the footprint of firewall and switches to better inform customers about many different aspects of security," he said. "Anything we can add to what Cisco is already doing has a network effect, and there will be a lot of opportunities for us to help companies monitor for malware and even look into issues such as data leakage prevention."
At least one industry analyst said that the IronPort acquisition dovetails nicely with emerging customer demands to look at patterns in IP traffic to eliminate malware attacks such as botnet programs -- without having a negative impact on their overall network performance.
"When you look at reputation services, if you know who the people are who are sending out spam or malware, there's a big opportunity to filter-out a lot of unwanted content at the gateway," said Andrew Jaquith, analyst with Boston-based research firm Yankee Group. "To do that you must have visibility into the actual flow of data, and that's what Cisco and IronPort should be able to provide."
Selling additional features and services to existing customers is a sensible place for the two companies to begin their joint efforts, but their new products will need to prove their efficacy at stopping threats such as botnets which remain problematic for many large enterprises today, to gain wide acceptance quickly, the analyst said.
"If you know that certain IP ranges are harboring botnets, or see something within the company network trying to communicate with those addresses, you have a pretty good clue that you've got a problem," he said. "That's one of the best potential uses for tying-in visibility into external reputations and correlating that with things going on inside the network."
Jaquith believes that IronPort's technology will find its way into many of Cisco's routing and switching products over the next several years, and he cited the ability to leverage reputation-oriented information about what types of Web sites endpoint devices have visited in Cisco's network access control (NAC) technologies as another potential benefit of the merger.
"Cisco really wants to be thought of as a security player, and for them to do that, it means they needed to move up the stack a couple of layers and start looking at e-mail and layer seven type-applications, they really needed to play in that space," the analyst said. "It's a mature market, and Cisco picked a strong company to help plant its security flag a little deeper."