Oracle buys Secerno to get database firewall

Star UK startup bought out

Oracle has bought UK database security startup Secerno for an undisclosed sum, bringing to an end the independence of one of the last decade's most unusual UK-based startups.

As Techworld pointed out in the first news item ever written on the company just before its 2006 product launch, UK technology start-ups with saleable products are a rarity. For one to get bought for decent money in short order is vanishingly rare. More often, the UK tech start-ups, especially university spin-offs, sell on their IP for pennies or just fade away to nothing.

The deal is expected to close at the end of June, after which Oracle will incorporate the company's DataWall database firewall, a multi-platform system used to analyse transactions for suspicious queries.

Apart from working across different databases, including virtualised databases, the system's strength is that it can work in real time by comparing each query to an established profile of what is 'normal' for that database. Unusual queries - typical of hacking attempts - are blocked.

"Secerno's database firewall product acts as a first line of defence against external threats and unauthorised internal access with a protective perimeter around Oracle and non-Oracle databases," said Oracle's database senior vice president, Andrew Mendelsohn.

The official press release did not make clear which of Secerno's team will remain in place but the assumption is that the core, including CEO Steve Hurn, and original co-founder and CTO, Steve Moyle, will be among them. Co-founder Paul Davie departed the company earlier this year.

The sale will have been driven in part by Secerno's big-shot investors, one of which is Amadeus Capital Partners, itself co-founded by Hermann Hauser, a key figure in the setting up of the famous Acorn microcomputer company in the 1980s. That company in turn spun out ARM, the chip used today in the iPhone and many other low-power devices.

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John E. Dunn

Techworld
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