Peter Stephenson, technology editor, SC Magazine
Peter Stephenson, technology editor, SC Magazine
This month is extraordinary. First we have the results of the first Security Innovators Throwdown, a competition held during the second annual SC World Congress in October of last year. Leading young companies presented their goals for newly developed technologies or services before a judging panel of experts in the field. The panel truly enjoyed listening to the companies give their pitches. These were interesting products that are likely to break new ground in our industry.

To accommodate the Throwdown, we had to re-think our two Group Test product categories for this month: email security and email content management. That turned out to be fairly easy. As we started to get submissions for these two product groups, it became evident that they are so close that they actually represent a single group. So that is how we treated them.

The result this month is a mish-mash of some very interesting reading. I know that you'll be as fascinated as I was when you look at some of the innovative approaches to information assurance that are included in the Throwdown section. These folks have looked at some tricky security problems and developed clever approaches to solving them. As you'll see, though, this is not a December Innovators Issue redux. This is just hard-core product stuff. More on that in the Throwdown section.

This issue is an example of where I see our industry sitting at the moment. I alluded to this in December, but it is even more obvious here. There are all sorts of unprecedented things happening in the information assurance marketplace. For example, closely allied functionalities that in the past were considered separate now are beginning to morph into single product types. We've seen that coming for a long time and we have seen the beginnings in obvious products, such as IDS and IPS with firewalls and other types of security gateways. But now we are starting to see more granularity.

The granularity, I think, is coming from several drivers. First, there is the old impetus of doing more with less. That started out as a financial consideration, but now it is as much about economy of network resources as it is about money. Another issue is simplicity. It is far easier to set up some sort of central policy and have it manage several different types of functionality than it is to create a unique policy for each security function on the enterprise. We are seeing this in the emerging area of universal gateways that go well beyond the typical UTM product.

When you thumb through this issue you will see what I am talking about, as well as challenges to my thesis. You will see examples of my crystal ball in the email security products and you will likely scratch your head when you read the Throwdown results and ask yourself, “How are any of these going to fit into a single multifunctional product?”

Well, we asked ourselves that many times over the past few years and I find that the industry tends to shape itself. One way is that technologies that start life as products become acquired and turn into embedded technology in other products, instead of extending their lives as the original individual products or services. Will that happen with this month's innovative products? Only time will answer that one. But for now, it certainly makes some fascinating reading!