Trend Micro tackles spam with Kelkea buy

The anti-virus vendor is beefing up its spam credentials and has plans to tackle phishing later this year

Anti-virus vendor Trend Micro is trying to maintain a competitive position by broadening its offerings with the purchase of anti-spam vendor, Kelkea, for an undisclosed sum.

Kelkea, which was a not-for profit organisation until the middle of 2004 when it changed its name from Maps (mail prevention system), generated $1.6m (£900,000) in revenues last year.

The organisation has 20 staff, which will remain at its San Jose, California, offices rather than move to Trend Micro's Cupertino headquarters due to space considerations. Its founder, chairman and chief executive Dave Rand will become Trend Micro's chief technologist of Internet security.

Graeme Titterington, an analyst at Ovum, said: "This is symptomatic of all of the anti-virus vendors -- they are trying to branch out and operate a bit more broadly in blocking nasties on the Internet. Trend Micro is trying to maintain itself on a level with what its major rivals such as Symantec are doing, so it makes sense to maintain its competitive position."

Kelkea provides an anti-spam service to a range of US-based ISPs such as AOL by tackling such content before it enters the network. As a result, according to Fernando Rynne, Trend Micro's global product marketing manager for Internet security, the purchase complements Trend Micro's deal with Postini, which handles spam at the gateway. The Kelkea service will be sold as an add-on to Trend Micro's core enterprise and service provider customer base.

"We don't want there to be any service disruption so in the short-term, we'll keep the Kelkea name. But in the next 30 to 90 days, we'll re-brand all of our service offerings and sell them as Trend Micro," he said.

Over the next three to nine months, however, the supplier also intends to introduce additional Kelkea-based offerings to tackle phishing and pharming.

As to whether Trend Micro will remain on the acquisition trail, Rynne was guarded. "For those following us, this move comes as a big change. We grew organically for 15 years, apart from buying a minor vendor selling firewalls in 2003 that we integrated into our desktop products," he said.

In May, however, the organisation purchased anti-spyware company InterMute, followed by Kelkea a month later, which "comes as a big change".

"Does that mean we're on a buying trail? Only where it makes sense will you probably see Trend Micro acquiring in areas that it’s keen to master technology rapidly. We see botnets, phishing and pharming as important areas and unless you can leapfrog those threats, you're always trailing behind," Rynne said.