Security

Prevention is better than cure

What kind of key opportunities do you see in the Middle East market?

The market here has matured quite a bit and in some ways, it has matured a lot quicker than other regions that we have. For instance, a lot of the business we see here is with service providers, and a few years back that was a small part of the business for us globally. Now, half of the business we have here with is with operators, and globally, it’s half the business as well.

What are your customers telling you? Any common themes?

The message that we are getting from our customer base is that they are continuing to invest in security. One of the things we are starting to see is that the IPS market is maturing, and CIOs and our customers are asking us to do couple of things. One thing in particular is, because our product is a networking appliance and sits inline, they are challenging us to do more with that platform. They see IPS as the core of our value proposition and they don’t want us to leave that. However, they are asking us to also look at other technologies that we can embed into that engine. Over the course of the next year we will try to become more of an application and software player. One of the additional services we are looking to provide is data leak prevention. We are developing additional modules to address DLP, and other industry-specific modules.

Are you going to develop that kind of technologies in-house or take the acquisition route?

It’s a combination of both. We actually have a list of apps that we want to develop inside, and our software teams are already on the job. There are also a number of partnerships that we would like announce as well, wherein we would test the products and let the customers decide. Frankly, one of the challenges we face in the industry is that there are some of good companies available at good valuations, and we are looking to bring them to bring them under the umbrella.

How has the IPS technology evolved over the years?

The fundamental value proposition hasn’t changed too much. In the early days what people were looking for was just blocking worms. So it sits inline and looks at every bit of traffic and decides what’s malicious. Fundamentally, it hasn’t changed. What we were able to do back then we are able to do now with simple filters and signatures. The application for IPS has expanded broadly. Now, we have to look at phishing, spyware and even abusive traffic such as peer to peer. Besides, the acceptance of IPS has grown among enterprises. In the early day, the hesitation, especially from the networking folks, was that deploying something virtually inline could create latency and slow down networks. That kind of mindset has changed, fuelling the adoption of IPS further.

Are end-users really harnessing the full potential of these systems? Research reports indicate that most of them are still using IPS for passive network monitoring.

When you look at the market together, there is not lot of industry data. They tend to combine IPS and IDS markets as one. We have close to 20000 units globally deployed and they are all inline, fitters turned on. Our boxes are really designed to go inline and block malicious traffic.

Is stand-alone IPS dead?

Standalone IPS as an appliance still has a strong life ahead of it. But as I mentioned earlier, we are getting requests from our customers to be able to provide more functionalities on the platform. They don’t want to put multiple boxes inline and turn them on.

What is your play in the network access control market?

We acquired NAC technology from a company called Roving Planet. Our goal is to be able to integrate that and run it on a single appliance. Right now, we are selling it separately. Globally, we have some traction, and have 40 customers globally since we introduced it last year. However, it’s still a small part of our business.

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