HP ProCurve Jumps Into The Firewall Market

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Hewlett-Packard’s ambition to offer under-one-roof network security starts with ProCurve Firewall, putting HP head to head with other security vendors.

“EDS now has the capability for a whole series of discrete security services ranging from help desk to providing managed security services to recommending security around our hardware and software,” says Jim Alsop, vice president of service delivery operations for the security and privacy service line at EDS. “The opportunity for growth, by adding a service to the provider side is one of the biggest opportunities for my organisation.”

HP’s push into security comes just a month after its longtime ally Cisco Systems unveiled its blade server strategy and ambitions for a greater presence in the data centre hardware market. Cisco’s plans will have an impact on all server vendors but most particularly HP, which sells and distributes a significant amount of Cisco’s products through its direct and indirect channels. Several analysts and industry observers had wondered how HP would respond to the new Cisco threat. The security push might be one of the significant responses, given that Cisco generates more than $1 billion annually in security hardware and software sales.

The security market is a crowded, disparate market, which is one of the reasons HP is expanding its presence. Whitener says HP customers buy point security products from dozens of vendors, creating complexity and cost in deployment, and a higher total cost of ownership in operations and management.

“If you come to us, we can do the security blueprint and you can still get all the pieces, but you can also call HP and get the whole shooting match,” Whitner says.

HP’s entry into the security hardware, software and services market opens the possibility for some significant and interesting scenarios among its competitors, alliances and channel partners.

While its alliance with McAfee gives HP access to a wide range of security software and hardware products not currently in its portfolio, it’s problematic for its existing relationship with Symantec (Norton antivirus). EDS reportedly sells as much as $400 million (£270 million) of Symantec’s products and services annually. Alsop says EDS is aware of its need to remain unbiased and deliver products that customers want, so he doesn’t anticipate substantial conflicts.

With its entry into the firewall and intrusion prevention system (IPS) market, HP is entering a crowded space dominated by security and technology vendors with years of experience developing security technologies and massive customer bases. That means it will have to take on Cisco, Juniper Networks, Check Point Software Technologies, IBM, McAfee (Secure Computing), Fortinet, SonicWall and WatchGuard. Many of its products and services could even bring it conflict with Microsoft, which recently put its security suite ForeFront: Codename Stirling into beta 2.

The security market, however, isn’t getting any smaller. At the RSA Conference last week, Netgear unveiled its new ProSecure UTM10 and UTM25 appliances, for unified threat management. And Lenovo was exhibiting an business-class unified security gateway; the KingGuard, which is a 3U appliance that is currently only available in China, but Lenovo has plans to bring it to the U.S.

HP has plans to become a significant actor on the security stage, but says it won’t follow the traditional path of conventional security companies. Over several generations of product development, HP plans to add more security functionality to its security devices and services, and continually integrate security into the fabric of its computing, storage and networking devices.