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The State of the Firewall: Our take on the 2017 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Network Firewalls

by and

Last month, Gartner released its Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Network Firewalls[1] for 2017. As the enterprise firewall market is the largest in the IT security sector, we feel the report is an essential read for IT security professionals. Here are some of our insights and takeaways from the report.

Long live the firewall!

Despite the many predictions in recent years of the death of the physical firewall, it will continue to be the cornerstone of network security. The report states that “During the evaluation period, the firewall market grew 8.9% to $9.27 billion[2].” Additionally, “Virtualized versions of enterprise network firewalls will reach 10% of market revenue by year-end 2020, up from less than 5% today.[3]

So, even three years from now, physical on-premise devices will still form 90% of the firewall market, despite the growing demand for virtualized security solutions.

Virtualized firewalls move from hype to reality

Although the virtual firewall market today represents less than 5% of the overall firewall market by revenue, there’s clearly growing interest in these products as data center virtualization continues and both SDN and IaaS projects gain traction in enterprise organizations.

Hand in hand with the growing number of deployments of virtual firewalls, the report rightly points out that these increasingly heterogeneous estates of physical and virtualized firewalls from multiple vendors will present security management challenges for these organizations.

The report states that “Leading-edge customers are planning, and sometimes implementing, principles of software-defined networking (SDN) and east-west microsegmentation. These customers seek vendors with some SDN support and forward-looking SDN roadmaps. Key to these roadmaps will be more automated firewall policy orchestration that will enable organizations to realize the agility and business benefits that SDN promises.[4]

Furthermore, the Gartner report adds that “Another big issue in deploying virtual firewalls in SDN or IaaS projects is the inability of enterprise virtual firewalls to spin up appropriate policy as servers are spun up. Agility is one of the key business benefits of SDN and IaaS, and the need for human interaction with firewall policy subtracts from the business benefits these agile architectures bring with them.[5] 

AlgoSec directly addresses these challenges, with its holistic approach to security policy management across physical on-premise networks, SDN (including support for Cisco ACI and VMware NSX) and public cloud platforms. The AlgoSec solution enables organizations to seamlessly, holistically and automatically migrate and manage policies for controlling both external north-south Web traffic, and internal east-west traffic within data centers.

Enterprise firewalls = next-generation firewalls 

In this new report, the majority of firewall products now support sophisticated features such as deep packet inspection, and granular application and user control as they address the need to integrate an application-centric approach into their security strategies. Similarly, AlgoSec takes an application-centric approach to network security policy management. It also provides workflows that help organizations migrate to, and then effectively manage, their NGFWs alongside any legacy traditional firewalls, as well as cloud and SDN controls.

New ‘challenger’ vendors emerge

Just one new vendor – New H3C Group – was added to the Magic Quadrant this year, and no vendors were dropped. However, one of the biggest movers in the latest report was Chinese firewall vendor Huawei, which is now positioned as a challenger in this year’s Magic Quadrant. AlgoSec announced its integration with Huawei back in January which came about as a result of increased interest from our customers, especially in APAC and EMEA.

Security policy management matters 

And last, but definitely not least, we were pleased to see that Network Security Policy Management (NSPM) solutions were given more exposure in this year’s Magic Quadrant than in previous years.

The report recognizes that, “Although the NSPM market is still somewhat small, it’s growing fast, and the customers requiring help with complexity are the very largest[6]”, and “Network security policy management (NSPM) products are increasingly used to manage complexity, especially in multivendor situations.[7]”. Moreover, “All NSPM vendors support multiple firewall products (including, in some cases, cloud-resident firewalls), whereas no firewall vendor will effectively manage a competing product. [8]

We certainly agree with Gartner’s views on the growing challenges of managing security and compliance across ever-more complex environments.  AlgoSec supports virtually all of the vendors named in the Magic Quadrant, enabling unified security policy management across the widest range of on-premise traditional and next-generation firewalls, virtual firewalls, and public cloud security controls, including AWS and Microsoft Azure, and private cloud/SDN including Cisco ACI and VMware NSX.

As mentioned earlier, organizations are adopting cloud and SDN technologies to enhance their agility and scalability.  To fully realize these benefits, they need to be able to seamlessly orchestrate and manage security both in the cloud, and in their traditional on-premise networks from a single console, to support the connectivity needs of the applications that drive their business.  The right NSPM solutions deliver these capabilities.  As such, we look forward to the NSPM market sector being covered by its own Magic Quadrant in the near future!

Gartner Disclaimer 

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

[1] Source: Gartner, Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Network Firewalls, by Adam Hils, Jeremy D’Hoinne, Rajpreet Kaur, July 10, 2017.

[2] Source: Gartner, Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Network Firewalls, by Adam Hils, Jeremy D’Hoinne, Rajpreet Kaur, July 10, 2017.

[3] Source: Gartner, Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Network Firewalls, by Adam Hils, Jeremy D’Hoinne, Rajpreet Kaur, July 10, 2017.

[4] Source: Gartner, Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Network Firewalls, by Adam Hils, Jeremy D’Hoinne, Rajpreet Kaur, July 10, 2017.

[5] Source: Gartner, Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Network Firewalls, by Adam Hils, Jeremy D’Hoinne, Rajpreet Kaur, July 10, 2017.

[6] Source: Gartner, Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Network Firewalls, by Adam Hils, Jeremy D’Hoinne, Rajpreet Kaur, July 10, 2017.

[7] Source: Gartner, Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Network Firewalls, by Adam Hils, Jeremy D’Hoinne, Rajpreet Kaur, July 10, 2017.

[8] Source: Gartner, Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Network Firewalls, by Adam Hils, Jeremy D’Hoinne, Rajpreet Kaur, July 10, 2017.

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