We just had to include this category in our year-end wrap-up of industry innovators - although the security offerings are new, immature and, as of yet, poorly defined as a market. However, a relative newcomer in this space is breaking all of those rules with the first true virtual firewall system.
This approach suggests a lot of possibilities, not all of them encouraging. For example, traditionally, third-party vendors that rush to fill a market gap created by an incomplete product offering by a major vendor find that the vendor gets its act together eventually, leaving the third party in the lurch.
While that covers the business side, the technologies of virtualization are evolving. That also means challenges to third-party companies. Chasing technology is a very tough business. And when one is chasing technology that itself is chasing technology, the problem gets a whole lot worse.
There are very few serious players in the virtualization space at the level of the hypervisor. At least one of the players is rather mature and its offerings have become the moving target for its competitors. That allows a third-party provider to work out the kinks with the market leader and apply that experience to subsequent offerings. And that is exactly what this year's selection is doing.
Based on a range of events taking place in the primary market - hypervisor-level (or bare metal if you prefer) virtualization - we think that several credible security offerings for virtualized environments will emerge.
There is room for more firewall/IDS/IPS systems for virtualized data centers. Specialized versions of access control systems will join the fray and, of course, to address that opening we will need purpose-built forensic tools so we can look for the big guns in that market, as well as some boutiques.
All of this, of course, will depend on what happens in the primary market. Will VMware continue to dominate or will an upstart sneak in and get a market share? The stage is set, and third-party vendors had better be ready to move with the agility of a virtual gazelle.