HP urges customers to rethink security, upgrades product portfolio

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HP has launched a next-generation firewall, TippingPoint, joining competitors including Palo Alto Networks, Check Point and Cisco in the race to provide customers with network security products that go beyond traditional port-based controls and allow them to exert more granular, application-level visibility and control over traffic.

The new product was announced at HP’s annual enterprise security event known as HP Protect in Washington DC. At the same time, the company revealed it is also working on a new cloud-based service to provide companies with threat intelligence, HP Threat Central.

The HP TippingPoint Next-Generation Firewall is, claim company executives, “an easy-to-use firewall appliance” that comes in five models: the S1050F, which supports 250,000 concurrent connections and is intended for use in branch network deployments; the S301F and 3020F, with up to 1 million concurrent connections for branch and campus network deployments; and the S8005F and S8010F, which offer up to 20 million concurrent connections, designed for use in core and data-centre network environments.

There’s no doubt that HP is entering a very crowded field, but there is also evidence that the market for this kind of firewall appliance is growing.

A mid-August report by Infonetics Research finds that network upgrades are forcing enterprises to consider overhauling their firewalls: upgrading to high-speed network interfaces was named as the number one driver for investing in high-end firewalls by over three-quarters of the 104 large enterprises questioned by the firm.

“Without a doubt, the move to faster network technologies is forcing enterprises to look at upgrading every moving part of their IT infrastructure, firewalls included,” explained Jeff Wilson, Infonetics principal analyst for security. “Many enterprise buyers are eyeing firewall products with 100G-plus aggregate throughput and support for 40G and 100G ports over the next year.”

At the time of writing, Cisco and Juniper Networks were leading the high-end firewall market, according to Infonetics, but the firm expects challengers Fortinet, Check Point, Palo Alto Networks and Dell SonicWall all to gain market share by deploying their own high-end firewall appliances in data centres and large campuses. This is the fray that HP is joining.

HP Threat Central, meanwhile, is the first community-sourced security intelligence platform, according to the company, providing “automated, real-time collaboration among organisations in the battle against active cyber threats.” The idea, it seems, is to ‘crowdsource’ intelligence about security threats, so that HP customers can help each other and themselves in the battle against cybercrime.

The company also announced upgrades to its ArcSight product line, and a new technology, HP SureStart self-healing technology, which automatically restores a system’s PC BIOS to its previously safe state if it is attacked or corrupted.

"Enterprises today aren't facing a single attacker; they are fighting a well-organised, well-funded adversary marketplace," said Art Gilliland, senior vice president and general manager of enterprise security products at HP.

But as organisations increasingly extend beyond their own four walls, they are increasingly “made up of a vast ecosystem of suppliers, devices that can go anywhere and, not to mention, a web that is literally worldwide,” added his colleague Arthur Wong, senior vice president and general manager of enterprise security services at the company.

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