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December 22, 2004

Netilla and AEP merge for security and growth

Netilla Networks Inc, which makes so-called 'clientless' virtual private network appliances that use Secure Socket Layer as the encryption mechanism, is to merge with AEP Systems Ltd, a company that started out in 1998 making ASIC chips, moved onto board manufacture and now also builds accelerated SSL-based security appliances.

By CBR Staff Writer

The merged entity, to be called AEP Networks, which has also just secured funding of $5 million from existing investors, will continue to concentrate on the development of security products for remote access and site-to-site communications. It claims a base of more than 1,200 enterprise customers.

Pat Donnellan, CEO of AEP Systems, will now become CEO of AEP Networks and Reggie Best, the existing president and CEO of Netilla Networks, will become executive vice president, marketing. The company will use offices in Somerset, New Jersey as its headquarters, with its European business based out of London.

The extended product portfolio includes the AEP SureWare A-Gate VPN hardware appliance that provides secure and authenticated access from any Internet browser to specific enterprise applications. As well as the A-Gate line, AEP designs and manufactures a range of general-purpose PKI (Public Key Infrastructure) products.

The SureWare Keyper hardware security module is for protected key storage, high-speed signature and hardware key generation, and the SureWare Runner is acceleration hardware that off-loads compute-intensive cryptographic functions from a server. The products compete in the market with the likes of n-Cipher plc and those that used to be sold by Rainbow Technologies Inc. It also sells a long-standing VPN encryptor that protects IP traffic across WAN and LAN networks, known as SureWare Net, that is popular in government and federal circles.

Lately, Netilla opened up a whole new line of application-specific Secure Socket Layer (SSL) VPN-based appliances, starting with the launch of a box to secure access to applications built around Citrix MetaFrame Presentation Server. The company said the appliance would be the first of a number of preconfigured appliances optimized for very specific niches.

Dublin, Ireland-based AEP was backed by ACT Venture Capital, AIB Equity, Enterprise Ireland, Intel, Island Capital and Mentor Capital, and has raised around $20m since 2002. Last year it paid almost $5 million for the cryptographic hardware business of Baltimore Technologies Plc. Lead investors in the Netilla business included Ascend Venture Group.

The fast-growing market for IPSec and SSL-based security appliances is extremely competitive, and has consolidated fast over the last couple of years.

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