Symantec set to release new security appliance line

Fulfilling a promise it made earlier in the year, Symantec Corp. will release next month a new line of gateway security appliances, the Symantec Gateway Security Appliance 5400 Series.

The release is scheduled for September 9 and will add to Symantec's family of Gateway Security Appliances, which combine firewall, intrusion detection, content filtering and antivirus technologies on a single hardware device, according to information released by the company Friday.

Symantec has been touting the release of the 5400 for months. In comments tied to recent earnings releases, Chief Executive Officer John Thompson has said that the products would add the ManHunt intrusion detection system (IDS) engine to the Gateway Security Appliance platform.

Symantec acquired the ManHunt technology with its purchase of Recourse Technologies Inc. in July, 2002.

The 5400 will offer better management features, tighter integration of security functions and a more attractive price than earlier editions of the Gateway Security Appliance, Thompson said in remarks accompanying the company's fiscal first quarter 2004 financial results on July 23.

Like earlier editions of the Gateway Security Appliance, 5400 series appliances will offer high availability features such as load balancing and clustering as well as event reporting capabilities, Symantec said Friday.

The 5400 appliances can be deployed individually or in clustered configurations, scaling from 200M bps individually up to 3.5G bps for clustered devices.

The new 5400 line of devices will be marketed to a wide range of enterprises with everything from small office environments to geographically distributed campuses with thousands of networked systems, Symantec said.

The release of the 5400 is part of an effort by Symantec to raise its profile as a provider of IDS technology and integrated security solutions.

In June, Symantec announced the release of a number of products focused on IDS including new versions of the ManHunt product as well as a host-based IDS product called Symantec Host IDS 4.1 and a "honeypot" product called Symantec Decoy Server designed to lure attackers.

Integrated products like the 5400 are attractive to small and medium size businesses that are short on staff to manage multiple security products on different platforms, according to Eric Ogren, senior analyst at Yankee Group.

Such companies typically don't have adequate staff to manage IDS systems or even stay on top of frequent antivirus updates, so consolidating those functions on one box can save time and money, he said.

Symantec will do well if it can offer simplified management of the 5400 appliance and beefed up IDS with the ManHunt technology at a price that is affordable for smaller companies and that does not require "hand holding" to use the product, Ogren said.

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