Cloud Security Will Overtake On-Premise Systems in Three Years: Gartner

By 2015, 10 percent of overall IT security enterprise product capabilities will be delivered in the cloud, according to Gartner market research.

Analysts at Gartner are predicting significant growth in adoption of cloud-based security services used by companies along with a quickening pace of merger and acquisitions among IT security companies.

In a new report entitled, “Predicts 2013: Security Solutions,” Gartner states that the higher-than-average growth of cloud-based security services will generate merger and acquisition activity involving small and midsize cloud-based security specialists. By 2015, 10 percent of overall IT security enterprise product capabilities will be delivered in the cloud.

During the next three years, the growth rates for cloud-based security services will overtake those of traditional on-premises security equipment, according to the report.

"The buying behavior changes for different organizational sizes, for example large enterprise selects security as a service to reduce costs of ongoing maintenance of security tools and to simplify their security programs or provide them more flexibility," said Gartner analyst Lawrence Pingree. "In some cases security as a service—specifically vulnerability assessment services—are used simply to comply with external scan requirements of PCI."

Mid and small market organizations tend to look towards the cloud due to resource constraints and the lack of security expertise, he added.

"The biggest opportunities currently center on areas such as messaging and Web security as well as remote vulnerability assessment; however, as maturity evolves, expect a wide variety of security offerings, such as data loss prevention (DLP), encryption and authentication, to be increasingly available in the cloud," according to the report.

Accompanying the adoption of cloud services will be a significant adoption of virtualization technologies, the firm said. In keeping with that, vendors should expect customers to deploy an increasing amount of virtual security appliances. By 2015, Gartner sees a future where 20 percent of the virtual private network (VPN)-firewall market is deployed in a virtual switch on a hypervisor as opposed to a physical security appliance.

"Virtual switches allow for new firewall players such as host-based security software companies to enter the network firewall market," the report notes. "Since a virtual switch is one level of abstraction away from the physical data switch ports, providing network security is no longer just for physical network providers."

"Hypervisor providers are moving firewall offerings from the data center to the network edge," according to the report. "This could be key for new network firewall players leveraging hypervisor technologies to gain firewall market share outside of the data center."

Network firewall providers need to offer customers "robust security controls on the virtual switch plane" through their product offerings and should also partner with hypervisor providers, the report notes. Network firewall vendors should also offer options outside of the hypervisor provider's framework, as a total reliance on a hypervisor's virtual switch control strategy may put the value of the network firewall provider in question, according to Gartner.

"Many firewall vendors today offer simply virtualized appliances that can run in the virtualization infrastructure as a VM. What is needed is security that is embedded by these vendors into the vswitch itself to integrate into customer private clouds," Pingree told eWEEK. "There are several vendors now supporting the integration."