First line of defence

Network security appliances offer huge sales opportunities for the channel

Tags: Blue Coat Systems IncorporatedFortinet IncorporationJuniper Networks IncorporatedRedington GulfSonicWALL IncorporatedUnified Threat Management
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First line of defence Ramkumar Balakrishnan, Redington
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By  Andrew Seymour Published  February 20, 2011

Network security appliances have become an essential tool for the security-conscious IT manager. That in turn is creating huge sales opportunities for Middle East channel players capable of tracking the direction the market is moving.

If there is one silo of the IT segment where the appetite for spending continues to hold firm, it’s security. Tech budgets in the Middle East might have been trimmed during the past 18 months, but even in the face of such austere measures it would take a brave organisation to slash its investment on systems and network protection.

Research from Infonetics reveals the global network security appliance and software market was worth more than US$1.4 billion in the third quarter of last year alone, and while that figure was flat on a sequential basis it still underscores the significance of a sector that continues to capture the attention of the biggest names in security.

Given all this, it’s hardly surprising that network security appliance vendors and unified threat management (UTM) suppliers are bullish about their prospects for growth.

Many are now rallying their partners in anticipation of some major market developments that could make – or break – the channel over the course of the next 12 months.

For one, the ubiquity of mobile device usage among end users poses a new and very real security challenge for organisations, according to Nigel Hawthorn, VP EMEA marketing at Blue Coat Systems.

“Right now, there is no good or easy way to protect these devices and prevent them from introducing malware into the network,” observes Hawthorn. “The rapid adoption of Android devices, the iPhone and the iPad will make this a key issue in 2011 that security vendors will need to begin addressing.”

He continues: “We will also start to see greater specialisation in security solutions. Whereas in the past, UTM vendors have bolted new technologies like URL filtering onto their existing boxes, in 2011 we will see vendors introduce products that specialise in technologies like filtering and malware scanning. The danger of web-based malware attacks has risen to the point that a good enough security solution for the web will no longer suffice.”

In addition to securely enabling the mobile workforce, the channel needs to help enterprise security managers contend with threats from increasingly sophisticated and well-funded cybercriminals at the same time as the infrastructure they are charged with protecting encounters fundamental paradigm shifts.

That’s the view of Taj El-Khayat, regional director for channels and general business at Juniper, who predicts that enterprises will need an integrated platform that offers a centralised means to view and manage all vital security functions, including firewalls, virtual private networks (VPNs), intrusion prevention systems (IPS) and antivirus in a bid to temper the many security threats at play.

“The more comprehensive a platform, the more ably it supports consistency in administration, policy enforcement and event management,” says El-Khayat. “Furthermore, as needs evolve, security platforms will need to easily accommodate new security services. Enterprises will require security platforms that embrace open standards, so that they can be integrated with new sensors and security capabilities as needs dictate.”

The increasing threat of modern malware continues to test the resilience of traditional security solutions that rely on signature and reputation-based technologies. However, as some commentators have suggested, the current generation of IPS products offered in the market are not necessarily effective enough to prevent some of the more sophisticated Botnet attacks wreaking havoc.

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