Tech Outlook 2004: A Look Ahead at Networking

By Cameron Sturdevant  |  Posted 2003-11-24

Tech Outlook 2004: A Look Ahead at Networking

The SSL VPN market took a quantum leap toward market acceptance this year, as established security and networking companies trampled one another in a race to purchase startup technology while others developed their own approaches in-house.

Next year, we will begin to see the fruits of these acquisitions, as NetScreen Technologies Inc., Symantec Corp. and F5 Networks Inc. integrate the technology into their existing product lines. We anticipate initial offerings to launch as stand-alone appliances, bringing extensive network application support to the table via thin-client ActiveX or Java plug-ins.

These appliances will come with their own management interfaces, but we expect each company to eventually integrate the devices into their respective enterprise management applications.

Meanwhile, the two 800-pound gorillas in the encrypted remote access space—Cisco Systems Inc. and Check Point Software Technologies Ltd.—look like they will take similarly reserved approaches, complementing their IP Security solutions with SSL-based functionality focused on securing clientless applications (such as Web, e-mail and file sharing).

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Networking Software

Although patch management, vulnerability assessment and intrusion detection products gained a high profile in 2003, the evolution and maturation of tried-and-true management tools still garnered much attention.

This will likely go on in the coming year, when it seems that management platforms will continue to integrate hardware and software inventory, infrastructure management and software distribution tools.

The huge number of security exploits this year led to an unprecedented use of and demand for patching software. It also led to immeasurable frustration for IT managers, as patching a system often seemed to cause more problems than it solved.

The number of patch management systems available may actually decrease next year as patch management becomes integrated with software distribution systems.

We will also probably see more research going in to patch testing—which would generate a set of possible side effects.

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