Antivirus vendors readily embraced the Radicati Group's prediction that the enterprise security market will boom in the next four years. But the research firm's conclusion that multifaceted appliances will be king is tough to swallow for those who sell products with a specialized focus.
Jason Coombs, director of forensic services for PivX Solutions Inc. of Newport Beach, Calif., whose Qwik-Fix program is specifically designed to block malicious code, said a "failsafe point solution will always be necessary to defend against vulnerabilities in software, whether those vulnerabilities are present in appliances and software suites or other point solutions."
The Palo Alto, Calif.-based Radicati Group's study, "Enterprise Security Market, 2004-2008," said the total enterprise security market is a $2.9 billion industry worldwide this year, and is expected to "grow rapidly" over the next four years, reaching $6.6 billion in 2008. It said one of the most notable trends taking shape is a move away from "point solutions" towards "full suite" security products: simple appliances that manage multiple security functions from antispam and antivirus to encryption and more.
A single appliance that tackles every security need sounds great on the surface, Coombs said. But what is an IT practitioner to do when a glitch crops up in such an all-encompassing machine? Coombs said it's much more difficult to address the problem when the affected software is buried in the belly of a big appliance.
"The problem with security appliances is that they push the threats that exist on the client out into a black box that is much more difficult to monitor and defend," Coombs said. "Appliances have vulnerabilities that only the vendor can fix, while conventional host-based software features are subject to independent expert analysis."
Concerns aside, most vendors agree multitasking machines are growing in demand.
"We have talked to hundreds of enterprises, and most recently to a large commercial real estate firm, and it's clear they are searching for a product that is simple to implement in their network, does not require them to reconfigure their switches and routers, and offers a full suite of security features," said Bethany Mayer, vice president of marketing for Mountain View, Calif.-based security firm Vernier Networks, which produces a multilayered system called the Adaptive Security Platform. "Essentially, the IT security teams within the enterprise are recognizing that, although all of the point security products they purchased are good at what they do, when an attack occurs a coordinated defense is really what is necessary to stop constantly changing worms and viruses from proliferating in the network."
Vendors seemed to agree with the study's other prediction that demand will surge for e-mail encryption. The study said e-mail users are becoming more aware of the simple mail transfer protocol's inherent lack of security. Meanwhile, it said vendors and service providers "are developing powerful, yet easy to use e-mail encryption and signing solutions." The study predicts e-mail encryption will be one of the fastest-growing market segments in the enterprise security industry over the next four years.
If his customers are any indication, Michael Rothman, vice president of marketing for Atlanta-based e-mail security firm CipherTrust Inc., said the study hit the nail on the head. "From the standpoint of customer demand, we're seeing a move toward multifaceted systems," he said. "We're definitely seeing more demand for e-mail encryption."
The full study is available at the Radicati Group's Web site .