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Security Vendors Pack In Features

A significant number of multipurpose security devices containing some combination of firewall, antivirus, IDS, VPN and content filtering were announced at NetWorld+Interop last month. Is this is a natural technological evolution or simply a marketing gimmick? With a single-purpose product like a firewall, you know the developers were concentrating on building the best firewall. But you also know that firewalls are not sufficient for protection--you need antivirus and IDS as well. Getting all three in the same box could save time.

The hidden cost in this scenario has to do with performance. The more a single machine needs to do, the more processing power and memory it requires. Even the fastest IDS appliances have trouble keeping up with enterprise LAN traffic levels, let alone performing antivirus.

Maybe we should look at this evolution from the perspective of small to midsize businesses. They need security devices, but they usually have less experienced staffs and fewer resources. Are multipurpose firewall products just the ticket? After all, a single $120 Linksys gateway can do firewall, NAPT, DHCP and wireless just as well as four separate devices.

Are vendors trying to sell products to you based on how much they can do in one box? Enterprise admins, let me know if you prefer 3,000 features or a single, solid solution.

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