Security, SMB offerings set to play big roles in

Firewalls and unified threat management systems that protect your borders certainly aren’t going away in 2007, but plan to spend more time looking inward with respect to upgrading your internal network-security infrastructure. Given how many corporate notebook computers also are used on unprotected home, airport or hotel networks, it is no surprise that problems can originate inside the traditional security perimeter. Network access control and anomaly-detection products are springing up. Cisco has validated the need for such products by offering its own, and a number of specialized startups intend to leapfrog those offerings.

The next-generation Wi-Fi Draft N is stuck in limbo, but wireless LANs haven’t stood still. Swarms of pre-N products now are available (what choice do these vendors have?), and a number of vendors are enhancing their Wi-Fi enterprise offerings to increase the effective range and throughput of end-station-to-array and Wireless Distribution System configurations. While often some proprietary technology is involved, there are vendors that offer “turbo” support even when users’ notebooks are outfitted with just standard 802.11a/b/g hardware and software.

In a wide array of types of products and services, we at The Tolly Group are seeing offerings developed or packaged specifically for small and midsize businesses. In the past, too many SMBs and remote sites would either have to overpay for higher-end corporate gear that they would not use, or be stuck using “Mickey Mouse” gear designed for small office/home office users.

Many of today’s products pack in essential enterprise features at prices that make them viable for SMBs and remote offices. Many vendors recognize that these appliances need to be managed effectively by a headquarters-based operator rather than rely on crude, pcAnywhere-type approaches.

Software-as-a-service often is bundled with the infrastructure products offered to SMBs and remote offices. In some cases, that service simply might provide updates to virus or threat databases. In other cases, we’ve seen more proactive management and monitoring of SMBs and remote offices. Now, about 2008…

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Tolly is president of The Tolly Group. He can be reached at [email protected]

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