Trend Micro Launches Virtualized Web Gateway, Partners Express Doubts

virtualization Gateway

Trend Micro executives say the comprehensive Web Gateway Security product, released at the same time as the opening of the VMWorld 2009 conference, integrates Trend Micro's new InterScan Web Security Virtual Appliance 5.0 and its new Advanced Reporting Management module -- both of which are powered by the company's Smart Protection Network.

However, while partners acknowledge that the virtualization space is rapidly gaining momentum in the weak economy, they question how readily the security product will be adopted in the SMB market, and how relevant a virtualized Web gateway is for most customers' existing security needs.

Michael Sullivan, CEO of Quest Network Solutions, based in Dallas, said that Trend Micro's solution goes head to head with McAfee's virtual URL-filtering products, which have already started to make inroads in the virtualized security space.

"McAfee is definitely the first out in the market with this," Sullivan said. "While [Trend Micro's product] is new, we haven't seen a lot of traction with virtual gateways. We've definitely seen a move toward virtualization, but it hasn't been enough yet to impact our business."

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Sullivan added that Trend Micro's virtualized Web gateway product will likely have a stronger foothold down the road as more businesses gravitate toward the virtualization model for all IT infrastructure. "Security that's running in a virtualized environment is a natural move," he said. "We're seeing the move toward virtualization. This is the right move for Trend. But today it's not an immediate impact."

But that could change, partners say. Customers will increasingly turn to virtualized Web security products as "drive-by" malware threats -- attacks that compromise legitimate Web sites with malicious code -- continue to evolve in both numbers and sophistication.

"Malware is being created fast -- to a degree that it's almost impossible for security vendors to respond to," said Chip Epps, product marketing manager for Trend Micro. "More and more malware is hosted on legitimate Web sites that have been compromised in some way."

The Trend Micro InterScan Web Security Virtual Appliance 5.0 sits at the customer's network perimeter to act as an expanded URL-filtering service, executives said. The comprehensive Web gateway, which resides on premise, incorporates malware scanning, policy administration and reporting capabilities, and is designed to provide what executives describe as "realtime" visibility into the entire company's Web activities and online behavior.

Those features come in handy when IT administrators and executives need to glimpse into the network to determine where malware is coming from, what non-work-related sites are being visited and by whom, and who is using excessive amounts of bandwidth that slow network performance, executives say.

Altogether, the new appliance, which gives customers the option of dedicating their own hardware or installing a VMware environment, includes HTTPS traffic-scanning capabilities, a flexible URL-filtering policy engine that supports custom URL categories and file type whitelisting, and the ability to create specialized policies based on specific sites or site categories. It also allows IT administrators to apply object-level-blocking -- blocking certain Web pages or inappropriate content without blocking access to the entire site.

Ken Beer, Trend Micro director of product management, said that the InterScan Web Security Virtual Appliance has the ability to determine and track all of the Web sites visited by employees while alerting IT administrators to malware sites in realtime.

Executives say that the new security product aligned with consolidation trends in that it combined URL filtering with Web reputation and antimalware scanning, as customers incrementally migrate away from point products in an effort to reduce expenses.

"We're trying to leapfrog in an area that's a commodity," Beer said. "People are saying no one is doing anything in that space for years, but we know that we're going to combine multiple jobs at the gateway around security and other protocols."

The Web gateway doesn't allow partners to offer direct management services, but provides opportunities for partners to wrap policy management and assessment services around the product, executives say.

However, some Trend Micro partners are not sold on Trend Micro's virtual appliance. Roy Miehe, president and CEO of AAAntivirus, based in Campbell, Calif., said that Trend Micro's newly released Web gateway product is a cloud-based iteration of the company's existing InterScan Virus Wall, which historically had fallen short in URL-filtering capabilities.

"They could never make the engine perform the way it should on HTTP," Miehe said. "It's still InterScan. It has a great SMTP, but it never could function as URL filtering."