Today Barracuda Networks announced their acquisition of Purewire. Barracuda has an incredibly broad product suite, including AV, WAF, Anti-spam, anti-malware, SSL gateways, and so on, but are behind their competition in web filtering and seriously lacking in solutions delivered as SaaS. The Purewire product set closes Barracuda’s biggest product gap, giving them URL filtering and some basic content inspection. But most importantly it can be delivered as SaaS. This is important for two reasons: first, Barracuda has been losing market share to email and web security vendors with comprehensive SaaS product lines. SaaS offers flexible deployment and extends the usable lifespan of existing appliance/software security investments. Second, SaaS can be sold ‘up-market’ or ‘down-market’, as pricing is simply adjusted for the desired capacity. This will keep the handful of Barracuda enterprise customers happy, and provide SME customers the ability to add capacity as needed, hopefully keeping them from bolting to other providers.

I have never had my hands on the Purewire product so I have little knowledge of its internal workings or competitive differentiators. I have only spoken with a couple customers but they seemed to be satisfied with the web filtering capabilities. No wholehearted endorsements, but I did not hear any complaints either – nothing wrong if the endorsements are not passionate as often the best than can be said for web filtering products is they perform their jobs and go unnoticed. Based on recent press releases and joint customer announcements, I was expecting Proofpoint to be the acquirer. Regardless, this is a better fit for both companies given Proofpoint’s significant overlap with Purewire. And Barracuda has greater need for this technology. It has been a long time coming but they are finally turning around and showing a dedication to a service based delivery model. Remember, it was only two years ago that Barracuda bet on Web Application Firewalls acquired with Netcontinuum. That bet did not pay off particularly well, as the WAF market never blossomed as predicted. And it further entrenched Barracuda as a box shop. This is a move in the right direction.