IBM Acquires Q1 Labs, Forms New Division Around Software Security

N-n-n-n-n, n-, n-, n-, n-n-n-n-n-nineteen. Anyone remember that song from the golden age of music and movies?

In any case, IBM has made its 19th acquisition of a Massachusetts software company since 2003. Today Big Blue (NYSE: IBM) announced it is acquiring Waltham, MA-based Q1 Labs, a 10-year-old security software firm that helps businesses see what’s going on in their networks, data centers, and applications. Terms of the deal weren’t given, but it is expected to close this quarter.

Q1 Labs is led by CEO Brendan Hannigan, who will head up IBM’s newly-formed Security Systems Division. The new division will include Q1 and 10 or so other security-related acquisitions IBM has made in the past decade (such as Watchfire, Big Fix, Ounce Labs, Internet Security Systems, and Guardium), as well as IBM’s own research and development in computer security. It’s all part of a broader effort by technology companies to combat sophisticated cyber attacks that increasingly threaten big companies and crucial infrastructure.

Q1 Labs has roughly 150-200 employees, from what I can tell. IBM isn’t saying yet whether those employees will stay in Waltham or move to the IBM Mass Lab in Littleton and Westford. Q1 says it has more than 1,700 customers, including healthcare providers, retail firms, energy and utility companies, financial institutions, government agencies, and wireless service providers.

IBM’s last Massachusetts acquisition was Netezza, a “big data” analytics firm that was snapped up for $1.7 billion a little over a year ago. Former Netezza CEO Jim Baum stayed on at IBM for a year to work on the company transition before leaving the firm last month.

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at Follow @gthuang

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