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Symantec yesterday bought SSL VPN appliance vendor SafeWeb for $26 million in cash.

The acquisition is yet another sign of consolidation in the hotly-tipped SSL VPN remote access market, following NetScreen Technologies' agreement this month to acquire SSL VPN company Neoteris for $265 million and F5 Networks's purchase of uRoam in July for $25m.

Vendors are jockeying for position in a market segment which, although still small, is expected to grow strongly over the next three years.

Analysts Infonetics reckons the SSL-based remote access market will exceed $600 million (slightly lower than previous estimates) by 2006. The technology scores over earlier IPSec-based VPN technology by eliminating the need to install client software on worker's machines. SSL-based VPN (clientless) technology uses the security functions built into Web browsers to reduce the cost and complexity of deploying, managing, and maintaining secure access to remote users.

Symantec intends to offer SafeWeb's Secure Extranet Appliance technology as a standalone offering beginning in the first quarter of 2004. In addition, Symantec plans to integrate clientless VPN capabilities into the next version of the Symantec Gateway Security Appliance series later in 2004. ®

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