Cisco's (CSCO) - Get Reportlatest acquisition touches on three fields -- software, security and cloud services -- that have received a lot of attention during the M&A spree being carried out by new CEO Chuck Robbins.
The networking giant is buying CloudLock, a provider of security software that lets companies set policies, protect data and monitor user activity related to cloud apps from the likes of Microsoft (MSFT) - Get Report, Alphabet (GOOGL) - Get Report, Salesforce (CRM) - Get Report, Box, and Slack, for $293 million in cash and assumed stock awards, plus incentives to keep CloudLock employees from leaving.
CloudLock's 700-plus clients include NASA, Dreamworks (DWA) , HBO, Whirlpool and the U.S. Army. Cisco exec Rob Salvagno notes CloudLock's software provides security controls not only for cloud apps, but also for cloud infrastructure (IaaS) platforms such as Amazon Web Services and cloud app platforms (PaaS) such as Salesforce's Force.com.
And the acquisition comes amid a multi-year explosion in cloud app usage -- some of it stemming from official company deployments, some of it from users deploying apps on their own -- in the corporate IT world.
But plenty of competition exists. Last year, two CloudLock rivals, Adallom and CirroSecure, were respectively acquired by Microsoft and Cisco firewall rival Palo Alto Networks (PANW) - Get Report. Many startups also compete in the cloud app security space.
Salvagno asserts CloudLock is differentiated by its ability to "deliver an incredibly detailed level of understanding of how users are sharing data, what's being shared and potential security risks associated with sensitive information that shouldn't be distributed," all while remaining invisible to end-users.
Cisco has been hungry to grab a larger chunk of a security IT spending market that has been a strong point as broader enterprise IT spending remains tepid. In 2015, the company spent $452.5 million to buy Lancope, a provider of security analytics software that provides better visibility into network traffic and helps companies quickly identify the source of a security event, and $635 million to buy OpenDNS, a provider of cybersecurity software that relies on monitoring and analyzing domain name requests.
The company's security investments have been paying off. Though Cisco's total product revenue rose only 1% annually in the April quarter to $8.88 billion, security product revenue rose 17% annually to $482 million, and the security deferred revenue balance rose 31%. Software and subscriptions, which now make up 46% of Cisco's security revenue, fueled much of that growth.
The CloudLock deal indicates Cisco is intent on keeping its foot on the pedal.