Blue Coat Systems protects and serves corporate networks. Its proxy appliances protect networks from viruses and other security threats and improve network performance. The devices provide Web content filtering, virus and spyware protection, user authentication, and the ability to limit or block peer-to-peer applications such as instant messaging. They can also be configured to provide WAN acceleration, speeding the delivery of business applications with Blue Coat's bandwidth management, protocol optimization, compression, and caching technologies. A significant portion of sales are made outside the US. Blue Coat was acquired by private equity investor Thoma Bravo for $1.3 billion in 2012.
Sales and Marketing
Blue Coat markets its products to customers worldwide, selling primarily through distributors, systems integrators, managed service providers, and resellers. The company depends on these channel partners for nearly all of its revenues. Its three largest distributors -- ComputerLinks, Westcon Group, and Arrow's Enterprise Computing Solutions business -- collectively accounted for 55% of sales in 2012. Blue Coat markets to enterprise customers in the health care, finance, education, and other sectors, as well as to service providers and government entities. Dubai Investments, Nagasaki Bank, Tenneco, Texas Childrens Hospital, and BT Group are among its end-user customers.
Though Blue Coat was able to turn a profit for the year, sales in fiscal 2011 were slightly lower than 2010, primarily due to a decrease in sales of its Web security products to enterprise customers. The decline in sales came after several consecutive years of sales growth, and during a year that the company realigned its product groups to focus on those that offer the best growth opportunities. Blue Coat also saw significant transition and upheaval in its sales force and executive leadership, contributing to the lack of execution for the year.
The company is targeting Web security, WAN optimization, and cloud-based security services for growth. During 2012 Blue Coat plans to invest in additional data centers and equipment to support its cloud computing initiatives. It is also further developing its Web security and WAN optimization appliances with cloud connectors that can be integrated with the Blue Coat Cloud Service.
Late in 2011 Blue Coat released a subscription-based product (Blue Coat Cloud Service) that addresses demand for cloud computing with security-as-a-service and other hosted products.
Mergers and Acquisitions
As part of a broader strategy to improve the way enterprises secure and optimize their networks, Blue Coat in 2012 agreed to acquire fellow Thoma Bravo portfolio company Crossbeam Systems, a leading network security automation specialist based in Boxborough, Massachusetts. Crossbeam's technology will help Blue Coat gain a strong support infrastructure and a platform that scales to the needs of increasingly complex IT environments. The following year it purchased the SSL appliance product line from Netronome, which will improve the ability of Blue Coat's customers to analyze their network traffic, and Solera Networks, which adds network security analytics to its lineup.