Tower of strength

UTM appliances have become the answer for firms that want their security managed in a simplified way, which in turn is opening up a burgeoning market for the channel.

Tags: Astaro CorporationCisco Systems IncorporatedFortinet IncorporationJuniper Networks IncorporatedSonicWALL IncorporatedUTMUnited Arab Emirates
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Tower of strength Shahnawaz Sheikh, Sonicwall.
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By  Piers Ford Published  January 20, 2010 Channel Middle East Logo

Unified Threat Management (UTM) has long been hailed as the answer to a security manager’s prayer.

It promises to bring multiple security measures — firewall, network intrusion prevention, spam and virus protection, content filtering and load balancing — into a single, proactively managed appliance.

Crucially, UTM also offers a streamlined solution to the growing problem of network security compromised by maverick internal internet use and the proliferation of USB stick use — potentially stripping away layers of complexity that have traditionally been a burden for the hard-pressed IT department charged with enabling corporate network security strategies.

Not surprisingly, UTM is one of the fastest growing sectors in the network security market. Its global value scaled US$1 billion in 2007 and research company IDC — which coined the term UTM back in 2004 — expects it to account for almost 34% of the total market by 2012. Vendors have not been slow to spot the opportunity and everyone from Fortinet to Juniper, Cisco, Astaro and Sonicwall is clamouring for a share.

In the Middle East, there is a definite sense of urgency in the market, and vendors appear in no doubt that the channel holds the key to driving successful security project delivery on the back of this rapidly evolving technology — particularly as they leapfrog each other with new features that add to the filtering and blocking capabilities of their UTM platforms, and take advantage of new initiatives like site-to-site tunnelling across the VPN.

Vendors agree that UTM has developed from an initial SMB focus and now have their sights set clearly on larger, distributed and departmental customers. “I believe the purpose of UTM is to primarily offer a comprehensive security solution to the customer’s network,” says Shahnawaz Sheikh, regional sales manager at Sonicwall.

“The channel should position UTMs on the basis of offering a complete solution at the gateway that covers antivirus, antispyware, intrusion prevention, anti-spam, URL filtering, application firewall filtering and granular reporting. Today, every network size from small SMBs to large enterprises requires a solution like UTM, which simplifies the security management approach and at the same time offers a comprehensive and robust solution to their networks.”

Mahmoud El Ali, general manager of 3Com Middle East and North Africa, says the sale of UTMs frequently requires a TCO comparison versus separate solutions, especially since UTM pricing is based on a subscription model for several of the security services.

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