Hot Stuff! Security Appliances

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Computer Associates is a well-known provider of IT technologies and products, whose entry into a market is usually a strong sign that it has become sufficiently mature to support commodity level sales activity. That’s why I was tickled to see a June 30 story in eWeek (www.eweek.com/article2/0,3959,1141785,00.asp) entitled “CA, Partners Ready Security Appliances”—not because this was big, breaking news of new technology, but rather, because it puts the big corporation seal of approval on a class of security devices that have begun to play increasingly important roles in home offices, branch offices, small offices, and other workplaces in the past two to three years.

 

A Security Appliance generally has several (if not all) of the following characteristics, and many are placed by vendors into workplaces as part of a communications service offering (like the combo boxes that combine firewall, hub, wireless access point, and cable or DSL modem capabilities that so many service providers and communications companies routinely provide for customers nowadays):

 

 

  • Firewall services at levels from protocol and service screening to stateful port management
  • Virtual Private Network access (set-up, configuration, account distribution, access controls, and more)
  • Anti-virus screening and protection services
  • Intrusion detection and reporting capabilities
  • Content filtering services (primarily outbound)
  • High-availability features include large amounts of bandwidth, load-balancing, and various levels of hardware redundancy and failover capability

 

The primary selling point of such appliances is convenience: they are designed to accept updates from the Internet, come largely pre-configured, relatively secure, and nearly ready to use. They’re designed to make it easy for small, satellite operations to maintain strong security and sophisticated networking services without requiring extensive in-house knowledge or expertise. This explains why all kinds of vendors like Cisco Systems, Symantec, SonicWall, Forum Systems, and lots of others beyond CA and its partner SteelCloud, Inc. (the latter outfit is building the hardware for CA’s appliance), are involved in this rapidly growing market segment.

 

 

For more information on this fascinating security product niche, see Robert Jacques’ story “Security Appliance Market Booming” at http://crn.vnunet.com/News/1140102.

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