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HP Enters the Firewall Market

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HP Firewalls

Never a dull moment in firewall market. This week, HP became a firewall vendor, unveiling a family of Tipping-Point Next-Generation Firewalls at its HP Protect conference in Washington D.C. (Full announcement can be read here.)

This is another step in the fast consolidation between firewalls and IPS. The strategy is similar to Cisco’s acquisition of SourceFire, only in HP’s case the sequence of events was different – acquire an IPS vendor first, add a Next-Generation Firewall (NGFW) second. In many ways, the challenges facing HP are the same – successfully upselling the NGFW to Tipping Point’s enterprise customer base. Although unlike Cisco, HP does not already have a firewall install base.

HP also made a move to capitalize on its strength and introduced a very interesting threat intelligence service. Expected to be available this fall, HP Arcsight Risk Insight (assuming it works well of course) could provide HP with some differentiation in the crowded NGFW market. The new service leverages HP Arcsight SIEM, and the rich data sources that feed into it, to detect targeted attacks and malware by leveraging a cloud-based, crowd-sourced service. Other firewall vendors already provide such services, but HP can potentially provide additional insight using a SIEM product that a traffic network appliance does not have access to.

For end-users, there is more choice, and more vendors to work with – which of course further increases the complexity of managing the security policy. In a survey we conducted late last year, 50% reported that the leading challenge of managing an environment with multiple vendors was different expertise required for each vendor. In turn, more security policies to manage was the leading challenge of managing multiple devices and all of this complexity bubbles up to increased risk as a majority of the respondents (55%) reported a breach, system outage or both due to complex environments.

As the old adage goes, “a rising tide lifts all boats” and the NGFW is rising fast. Time will tell which vendors can truly set sail in the challenging firewall market.

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