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October 2004

The security appliance market: Just a myth?

The idea that there's some sort of "security appliance market" is ridiculous. As an analyst, I track scores of products in 36 categories, and there are vendors who sell appliances in each. That's because an appliance is a delivery alternative--a form factor--that vendors use to differentiate their products from competitors. This means that an appliance is nothing more than one alternative among offerings that include software, blades and managed services. Hence, the NetScreen firewall appliance competes with Check Point software firewall; the Sourcefire IDS appliance competes with Internet Security Systems' RealSecure software; the nCircle vulnerability scanner appliance competes against the Qualys service. And so on. Here's the rub: Not only can functionality differ significantly, but so can the benefits an appliance brings to the table, depending on what's under the hood. The initial benefits of all appliances are that they're self-contained, fully functioning units, complete with bundled applications, hardware, OSes, database...

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