Integrated Devices Hold Key

Though no two devices are alike, these integrated appliances are multifunction security tools that combine firewall, antivirus, VPN, content filtering, and intrusion detection and prevention (IDP) into one. Last month, for instance, Atlanta-based ISS launched the Proventia M30, a device that combines all of the features for $3,495 a pop.

Many vendors now offer integrated security devices for even less than that. As solution providers see it, these affordable price points help make the solutions viable for businesses of every shape and size.


Integrated appliances, such as Fortinet's FortiGate 3600 (top) and Symantec's Gateway Security 360, are all the rage.

"Integrated appliances are the next big thing in security, hands down," said Bill Calderwood, president of The Root Group, an ISS channel partner based in Boulder, Colo.

For vendors, the name of the game is diversification. For customers, the appeal is to stop buying security components piecemeal from a variety of vendors and to purchase one appliance from one vendor that handles everything.

Sponsored post

At Cupertino, Calif.-based Symantec, which pioneered the integrated approach in 2002 with its Symantec Gateway Security firewall appliance, executives say the trend is almost counterintuitive,that is, instead of thinking outside the box, they're cramming functionality into it.

Symantec's latest offerings, the Symantec Gateway Security 320, 360 and 360R appliances, were designed to deliver security and networking capabilities to small and midsize businesses for $750 or less. Barry Cioe, senior director of product management, described the products as a "better mousetrap" but used an analogy that revolved around fish.

"If I wanted to catch more fish, I can throw three nets together and toss them over the side of the boat," he said. "But if I want to catch the right fish, what I need to do is design a new net."

Craig Heilman, vice president of professional services at Inacom Information Systems, Madison, Wis., said the primary advantage of integrated security appliances is that they're easier for his teams to administer. According to Heilman, while this integrated approach means less revenue from support fees, it enables the technology management and services company to offer broader services to more customers.

"Customers don't need us around as much, but [integrated security appliances] give us the capacity to help businesses of every size," said Heilman, whose company participates in Symantec's channel program. "These types of solutions weren't available to smaller customers in the past."

Darrel Bowman, CEO of AppTech, Tacoma, Wash., agreed, noting that integrated security appliances have redefined the way he sells solutions overall.

Whereas Bowman used to pitch security solutions as serving particular niches, today he pitches the integrated appliances from a variety of vendors as catch-alls. Bowman added that he bills the devices as "EASY-E" solutions,solutions that "Effectively and Affordably Secure Your Enterprise."

"When you've got something that facilitates the seamless integration of software and hardware on gateway appliances, you're in great shape as a technology reseller," he said.