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June 21, 2012

Days Are Numbered for Traditional Firewall Technology

Network security, like airports before 2001, still leaves much to be desired. If SonicWALL (News - Alert) has its way, however, that could change soon.

“Think of [traditional firewall technology] as an airport line,” said Dmitriy Ayrapetov, director of product management for SonicWALL, during a conversation at the Interop (News - Alert) 2012 show in May. “You have 100 bags with you, and they only check your boarding pass and passport. That’s the state of firewalls.”

SonicWALL and other firewall providers are pushing so-called next-generation firewall technology that is application aware and does threat prevention. The defining characteristic of a next-generation firewall is its ability to identify and control traffic at the application layer. This is like not only checking passport and boarding pass, but also going through each bag brought on the plane.



“Now we’re also going through all your bags — is this dangerous, is this allowed, how much of this is allowed,” Ayrapetov explained. “So that is the analogy to deep-packet inspection that is done by next-generation firewalls. They really help to rebuild the secure perimeter that has been eroded over the past five years by web applications.”

Right now the firewall market is hot as customers and vendors consider these next-generation firewalls, but still there is some lingering concern about performance. Ayrapetov said he hopes the industry can move beyond this discussion.

“We want to make deep-packet inspection security synonymous with security — to become ubiquitous,” he said. “Today, nobody pauses to think about whether they should have [traditional] packet inspection from a performance standpoint. It is just a non-factor. We want to do the same exact thing for deep-packet inspection.”

Ayrapetov thinks SonicWALL can help make next-generation firewalls ubiquitous now that it is part of Dell (News - Alert), which closed on its acquisition of the company this past May.

“I think we will have a very good chance to do that under the Dell umbrella,” he noted. “We bring technology to the table, Dell brings tremendous market reach, tremendous channel reach, tremendously large sales force, and just the two coming together.”

The acquisition also helps SonicWALL stack up well against competitors such as Check Point and Fortinet (News - Alert).

“We expect SonicWALL's mature technology and their unique channel partner ecosystem to integrate very well with Dell's software and networking vision, while SonicWALL’s investment in enterprise technology may well become a disruptor in that market,” said Scott Crawford, research director for industry analyst firm Enterprise Management Associates, in an announcement about the acquisition.

“We were one of the three vendors to receive the NSS [Labs] Recommended badge this year [for next-generation firewalls],” Ayrapetov added. “But of the three vendors, we had the fastest and the most secure next-generation firewall. So we now can have the fast, largest product that will go to data centers, campus networks, carrier networks, while providing the same level of technology and security down to the branch offices. If you’re in SMB, you can have this technology, and if you are a very large enterprise you can have this technology as well.”

And this may just be enough to get the airport checking every bag that goes on the plane. So to speak.

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO West 2012, taking place Oct. 2-5, in Austin, TX. ITEXPO (News - Alert) offers an educational program to help corporate decision makers select the right IP-based voice, video, fax and unified communications solutions to improve their operations. It's also where service providers learn how to profitably roll out the services their subscribers are clamoring for – and where resellers can learn about new growth opportunities. For more information on registering for ITEXPO click here.

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Edited by Rich Steeves
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