Tuesday, March 20, 2012

SonicWALL And Dell: What Are The Risks For Enterprise Customers?

As you can’t have failed to notice by now, a hardware vendor bought a UTM vendor last week. Of what earthly interest could that be to enterprise security folk? As it happens, the Dell acquisition of SonicWALL is interesting for a couple of reasons. The first is the concern many SuperMassive customers might have regarding its future under a company not renowned for its enterprise security products; the second is the way Dell is setting its stall out to take on HP and Cisco in the enterprise.

The SonicWALL acquisition strengthens Dell’s security offerings considerably for both enterprise and small to medium-sized business (SMB) customers. Although there are hurdles to be overcome, NSS Labs considers this a positive move for current and potential SonicWALL customers, particularly those considering deployment of the SuperMassive NGFW platform.

This acquisition is actually more positive for SonicWALL, its partners and customers than a scenario where the company was purchased by a larger security vendor seeking a rapid entry into the unified threat management (UTM) or next generation firewall (NGFW) market. Dell is clearly seeking to build an enterprise class portfolio of servers, data storage, core networking, and security products that will allow it to compete with established enterprise vendors such as HP and Cisco.

During the recent NSS Labs NGFW Group Test, one of the concerns of our analysts was in SonicWALL’s ability to execute in terms of SuperMassive support in the enterprise space. It is vital that the Dell acquisition accelerates the growth of the enterprise support group to ensure the success of SuperMassive going forward.

One other area of potential concern is the lack of any mention of the Aventail SSL VPN product line. Customers and potential customers of the Aventail products should seek assurances from SonicWALL and Dell that their needs will be met to their satisfaction going forward. This deal also underscores the importance of having security products in a complete enterprise-computing portfolio. For larger security or networking companies looking to acquire this kind of technology to flesh out a portfolio in this manner, the shopping list is getting shorter by the day, with the likes of Fortinet, Stonesoft and SourceFire standing out as potential acquisition targets.

I have just completed an Analysis Brief that addresses this transaction in more depth and covers the potential risks and concerns to enterprise customers. This brief is available outside the NSS Labs pay wall and is available to both subscribers and non-subscribers free of charge. Follow me on Twitter (@bwalder) to keep informed as new research is released.

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