META Group, Inc. announced the availability of its newest METAspectrum In Depth Report, covering the enterprise firewall market. This market is characterized by products used primarily in demilitarized zone environments, as the primary access control interface between the Internet and an organization's hosted and internal computing resources. It also includes firewalls used within an organization's internal network or as the interface to the Internet for smaller, regional offices. Most organizations should expect to continue spending on enterprise firewall products for at least the next two to three years, as implementations proliferate beyond or within the Internet perimeter zones, where firewalls are commonly deployed. META Group expects the enterprise firewall market to grow 25 percent annually during the next two to three years.

"The firewall market is already well established, but the technology still has considerable growth potential. In addition, heightened sensitivity to information security is driving an expansion in common implementation scenarios, consequently fueling continued growth of the market," said Mark Bouchard, senior program director with META Group's Technology Research Services and lead author of the report. "Users must set aside the hype and focus on vendors/products that demonstrate a reasonable strategy for addressing application-layer awareness and control as well as intrusion protection. The greatest challenge will be finding a single provider that can successfully meet all needs in a homogeneous fashion – without requiring half a dozen different products/platforms and a similar number of associated management applications."

For users, exposure to attacks despite using a perimeter firewall is unacceptable. Therefore, organizations must ensure their current firewall provider can or will soon meet their application-layer needs; augment firewalls lacking inappropriate capabilities with application security gateways; or migrate to an enterprise firewall provider that demonstrates an understanding of application-layer issues.

Key Findings and Guidance

The Enterprise Firewalls report evaluates nine vendors in this market. We expect the proliferation of firewall instances within an organization to drive an emphasis on management capabilities, as well as on the scope/homogeneity and value of a vendor's solution set. The analysis found:

  • Leaders currently have the greatest market share and superior technological capabilities. To achieve (and maintain) a leadership position, vendors must provide high value, have a strong track record, and clearly articulate a game plan that aligns with user needs.
  • Challengers are divided into three distinct tiers. The first tier is the closest to achieving leadership by having essentially equivalent technological capabilities to the leaders, but lacking in some of the presence criteria.
  • Followers are generally not top contenders in this market. However, there are still situations in which they may be a good fit.

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