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Cisco buys Synata to bolster Spark collaboration service

Cisco will use Synata technology to provide tools for searching encrypted information in the Spark collaboration service.

Cisco's recent acquisition of Synata, a developer of search technology for collaboration tools, will make it easier for Spark users to search encrypted information within the service.

Cisco's purchase of Synata, a San Francisco-based, privately held company, was announced this month. Cisco did not disclose the amount.

With Spark, companies subscribe to a service that includes messaging, chat rooms and calling. All documents and messages exchanged on the service are encrypted.

Synata technology lets users search encrypted files and messages, while maintaining security on the collaboration service. Users can also search on-premises and cloud-based applications simultaneously. Overall, the capabilities take the Spark search engine to the "next level," Rob Salvagno, Cisco's vice president of business development, said in a company blog.

The acquisition wasn't a surprise, as Spark's encryption limited the reach of its search engine, said Lisa Durant, an analyst with Nemertes Research in Mokena, Ill. With Synata, the Spark engine can stretch beyond the service to third-party cloud repositories that encrypt data.

The ability to search in and beyond Spark will be particularly important to businesses that forego email in favor of team communication services, said Michael Brandenburg, an analyst at Frost & Sullivan.

"Solid, fast and secure search opens the door to better context of the conversations going on within Spark," Brandenburg said.

Cisco has devoted a lot of resources to Spark of late. This month, the company announced a $150 million fund, called the Cisco Spark Innovation Fund, to encourage developers to build custom apps for the collaboration service.

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