Symantec Speeds Up

Launches new range of better-performing security God-boxes. Fortinet, take note

August 31, 2005

3 Min Read
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Symantec Corp. (Nasdaq: SYMC) has overhauled its Gateway family of devices in an attempt to meet user needs for an all-singing, all-dancing, security God-box” -- and just maybe steal a march on one of its key competitors (see Symantec Intros New Series ).

Users are getting tired of managing different boxes and looking more and more for security devices that run the gamut of network protection. Last week, analyst firm Synergy Research Group Inc. said the market for what it defines as "hybrid" security products grew 3 percent in the second quarter of 2005 to $65.2 million. Much of this growth was driven by the move from standalone to multifunction devices, it said.

In an attempt to tap into this demand, Symantec this week unveiled its new 5600 range of Gateways, which combine SSL VPN, IPSec, anti-spam, anti-virus, firewall, intrusion prevention, and intrusion detection.

With this week's announcement, Symantec has almost doubled the performance of its previous Gateway boxes. The maximum firewall throughput offered on the vendor’s previous high-end Gateway device, the 5460, was 1.8 Gbit/s. The new, high-end 5660 offers 3 Gbit/s of throughput, although this figure is based on Symantec’s own in-house testing.

Two other devices, the 5640 and the 5620, were also launched by Symantec this week, offering, respectively, 1 Gbit/s and 600 Mbit/s of throughput.Symantec appears to be pushing the performance envelope compared to most of the competition, at least at the high end. Cisco Systems Inc.’s (Nasdaq: CSCO) ASA 5500 device, for example, offers a maximum firewall throughput of 650 Mbit/s, and SonicWall Inc.’s (Nasdaq: SNWL) Pro Series offers 2.4 Gbit/s.

Still, Fortinet Inc., remains the vendor to beat. That supplier says its FortiGate 5000 family offers throughput starting at 3 Gbit/s, same as the Symantec 5660. The high-end FortiGate 5140, however, offers a whopping 42 Gbit/s of firewall throughput, according to the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based vendor.

Fortinet is regarded as somewhat of a trailblazer in this space (see Fortinet Fuses SSL & VOIP and Fortinet Fires Up for IPO). However, the vendor was recently barred from selling its anti-virus software in the U.S by the U.S International Trade Commmission after infringing a Trend Micro Inc. patent (see Trade Commission Slams Fortinet).

Symantec denies any suggestion that the announcement was timed to exploit Fortinet’s recent problems. “This is part of the evolution of our roadmap,” says Michele Araujo, senior product manager.

Symantec has borrowed technology from its Web security offerings and used it to bolster the 5600 devices. Dynamic Document Review (DDR), which is part of Symantec’s Web Security software, has now been added to the 5600 boxes. This lets administrators deny users access to Websites considered inappropriate, by defining certain sets of sensitive words.Symantec is also looking to address users’ single-point-of-failure concerns with the 5600 family, for the first time adding redundant disks and power supplies to the Gateways. Araujo adds that the 5600s, like their predecessors, also come with load balancing software specifically designed to limit the impact of an outage. Additionally, she says, users can deploy up to eight Gateways in a cluster. “If one device goes down, the next device in the cluster will assume responsibility."

What about customers? “Our first customer shipment is scheduled for Wednesday, August 31,” says Araujo, although she would not disclose the firm’s identity.

— James Rogers, Site Editor, Next-Gen Data Center Forum

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