Here's another category that is a bit hard to define. Perhaps, at least from the old perspective of what a UTM must do to be a UTM, we won't attempt a definition. Today's UTM does a lot more than the UTMs of yore. That, actually, seems to be the defining criterion: how much does the UTM really do for the perimeter? In the case of products by SonicWALL, the answer is plenty.
Typically, we think that simply brute-forcing analysis by adding more processing power is an inefficient way to do more. With UTMs, though, it is one of the keys to the analysis castle. The reason, simply, is that today's networks run at very high speeds. That means a lot of data passes over the perimeter so dropping packets is not an option. The real solution is a combination of very efficient code and high-speed hardware.
To accomplish both speed and accuracy, SonicWALL has developed a new deep packet inspection technique that does not require the analysis engine to play an entire message stream before it can perform its analysis. Analysis can be performed on the fly and the result, coupled with multi-core technology, is blazing speed and solid accuracy. Clearly, this is a technology-driven company. Or not.
When I asked SonicWALL's visionary what was next, the answer came in pure marketing terms: support for SMBs. SonicWALL takes enterprise-class security and puts it in a small box at a reasonable price. It seems to me that they have really gotten pretty close to supporting the SMB market.
What else? According to their visionary, once you have the ability to do deep scans, you can learn a lot more about the network and what is happening on it. So, here is another innovator that believes that there is more to managing a network than just managing security. This goes way beyond our traditional view of defense-in-depth in that it addresses security, as well as the operation of the network. But there's more.
The next frontier is on us and that frontier is voice over internet protocol (VoIP). A UTM that can manage VoIP must be very intelligent, but more important, it must introduce no latency into the data flows. That is another achievement for SonicWALL, and at the rate this innovator is progressing I expect that we will be talking about that next year.
AT A GLANCE
Flagship product: SonicWALL TZ 210 Wireless-N
Innovation: Speed and deep packet analysis capability that moves toward the next generation of UTMs
Greatest strength: Seeing and understanding future requirements