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Bucking the trend

While IT budgets continue to remain flat worldwide, one area that seems to have dodged the bullet is that of security. If the latest financial results of security companies are anything to go by, people are buying security, more than ever now. One bright spot within the security landscape is appliances, especially UTMs. Hitherto been the darling of SMBs, UTMs are making headway within the enterprise space too. This swiss-knife approach to security seems to have caught the fancy of IT managers struggling with a multitude of point security solutions. Revenues for so-called Unified Threat Management (UTM) appliances totalled $130.27 million for the fourth quarter of 2008, 18.7 % more than fourth quarter 2007, according to IDC. Fortinet was the top vendor, followed by Cisco Systems and Check Point, IDC said. The research firm projects more than $3 bullion sales in 2011 – with most firewall appliances supporting options that make them UTMS and offering a way to simplify networks by eliminating boxes.

UTM systems typically have multiple features and capabilities, including intrusion detection and prevention, gateway antivirus, e-mail spam filtering and Web content filtering, as well as the traditional functions of a firewall, integrated into one product offering. Some vendors offer the option of purchasing UTM appliances for all of the various functions available or integrating just a few of the functions as needed. Though UTM platforms bring together a myriad of security functions on a single hardware platform, they aren’t always the perfect solutions. There are trade-offs in terms of performance, and you would need redundant boxes to prevent single point of failures. Besides, individual application may not have all the features of purpose-built stand-alone applications. Though some of these kinks cannot be ironed out easily, if you look at the overall picture, UTMs represent the opportunity to have a single device that can streamline your network architecture, and that’s quite compelling given the times we live in now.

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