McAfee Makes Network Security Push Against Rivals

McAfee details its strategy to take on Cisco, Check Point Software Technologies and others in the network security market. Leveraging technology acquired from Secure Computing, McAfee is starting its network security push with new firewall offerings. The company is also touting new integration with its ePO software.

McAfee has outlined its network security strategy, tracing a bull's eye around companies like Cisco and Check Point Software Technologies.

Unveiling three new firewall-related products, McAfee officials said the key to their strategy will be integration and unified management. To that end, McAfee has integrated its Firewall Enterprise (formerly Secure Computing's Sidewinder), Firewall Enterprise Control Center and McAfee Firewall Enterprise Profiler products with its ePolicy Orchestrator (ePO) software. The company also released Total Protection for Internet Gateway, which includes Web and e-mail protection as well as network data loss prevention technology.

"The essence of this push that we're doing right now really is ... that we're in the network security area in a big way, which some people don't recognize," said Dan Ryan, executive vice president of McAfee's Network Security Business unit.

The company's latest push actually began last year with the acquisition of Secure Computing. Now the company has its eyes fixed on leveraging the technology to secure a bigger part of the overall security market. According to analyst firm IDC, the worldwide market for network, Web and messaging security was valued at roughly $12 billion in 2008 and is forecasted to grow to $17.6 billion by 2012.

Getting a bigger piece of that means providing organizations with a more unified approach to security, said Chris Christiansen, an analyst with IDC.

"The days of managing network defense, Web and messaging security and data security as separate activities simply won't succeed in today's economic and threat environment," he said in a statement. "Effective network security must have global intelligence and must be integrated into the broader organizational security management infrastructure. Vendors that deliver these levels of integration in a complete suite will be successful as this will lower overall cost of ownership for organizations."

By leveraging the company's global threat intelligence and the management capabilities of ePO, McAfee officials believe they can arm their customers with enough protection to give the company an edge in the market over rival vendors.

"The natural competitors for McAfee have been the Symantecs of the world, and now once we get into this side, the network-specific and security-specific vendors are going to be Check Point and Cisco along with the pure plays like Blue Coat [Systems], Websense, etc.," Ryan said.

With the addition of Firewall Profiler, McAfee Firewall Enterprise is application and identity aware, officials said, adding that Firewall Enterprise uses global reputation-based technology to make decisions on network traffic. Firewall Enterprise Profiler is targeted at helping enterprises get a handle on the thousands of firewall rules they have before conflicting rules hurt productivity.

"The firewalls today have typically 5,000 to 10,000 rules in them, and they're broken," Ryan said. "They're broken by virtue of the fact that there's a billion-dollar IPS market that you put in behind the firewalls just to catch stuff that gets through. What profiler does ... it lets you actually connect immediately by drilling into this graphical interface the exact rule in the firewall that's impacting the exact user or user group. So it takes the management of rules down to literally minutes."

The new McAfee Firewall Enterprise 2150 VX appliances are 2U appliances that allow customers the ability to consolidate up to 32 firewalls into one physical appliance. Meanwhile, McAfee Firewall Enterprise Control Center (formerly CommandCenter) was updated to integrate with ePO.

"I think we're just really excited about the opportunity to really combat Check Point, Cisco and others for that No. 1 spot," he added.