Microsoft officials have revealed that the company is "in the final stages of due diligence" on several security acquisitions it plans to announce this summer.
No names have been put in the frame but the acquisition war-chest is believed to be $2 billion.
The long-term plan is to turn ISA Server into a fully-fledged unified threat management platform (UTM) platform to rival Nokia and Check Point, buying the security capabilities that the product currently lacks, an official said.
The innocent-sounding Microsoft Security Business Technology Unit was also talked up as a standalone business that had been set the target of taking on the biggest players in the security industry.
Weve decided to make money from it (security), said Microsoft security technology architect Fred Baumhardt, dismissing the received model that Microsoft security products were primarily intended to be defensive of the Windows platform.
Having bought managed email security company FrontBridge, and anti-virus company Sybari, the company now needed to add further security capabilities to its line-up as it sought to turn ISA Server into a major business security platform.
There has been much speculation about Microsofts intentions in the consumer security market, but the companys aggressive plans for business security could turn out to be as significant.
According to Baumhardt, the model favoured by the company was to turn ISA Server into the leading platform standard for UTM, allowing companies to run its in a hosted or appliance form. Third-parties would create security functions to plug into ISA Server using open APIs, effectively turning it into a de-facto standard.
According to one source at a Microsoft partner, there were still glaring holes in he product. It lacked industrial strength intrusion prevention or detection, and needed VoIP support and better anti-spyware capabilities.
Look at Microsoft applications and ask what technologies would be required to protect them, said the source.