There has been a lot of buzz of a new concept emerging in the network community– software defined networking (SDN). SDN is glamorized as the network’s latest push towards a more streamlined and cost-efficient solution compared to the physical infrastructure currently dominating the floors of IT departments. Promoters are trumpeting this advancement as an innovation marvel; much like virtualization was to servers. In fact, a key component of SDN is bringing networks to a virtual environment. Despite the hype of SDN giving it much notability, many are still confused about the underlying concept of SDN, the possible complications, and the business value of having an SDN network. Visit Info-Tech’s solution set Prepare for Software Defined Networking (SDN) to guide you through fact and fiction.

SDN is essentially a network architecture where the management, mapping, and control of traffic flow is removed from network devices, and centralized in the network. This separation is said to increase performance, network visibility, and simplicity given it is constructed correctly. However, given SDN’s infancy, a sufficient number of use cases and proof-of-concepts have yet to emerge in the SDN space, leaving organizations wondering if there is any revenue generating or cost saving opportunities. How can they make a sound decision on SDN? It may be too early to make a final decision, but they can start crafting the case and investigate the early movers in the SDN space.

Be prepared to see a shift in networking paradigms because of SDN: hardware to software, physical to virtual, propriety to commodity. Naturally, this will throw off traditional networking staff from their game. But, do not worry, current SDN solutions are still in “Version 1” and future versions may see solutions become friendlier to traditional network practices and concepts. With the attention it is getting from the media and established network leaders, SDN technologies will likely (and hopefully) evolve to mainstream deployment states.

Realize SDN is here. Understand where it came from and how it can help your business. Remember to wait for the SDN space to settle and mature before implementing SDN in your organization. After all, you wouldn’t want your child driving your multi-million dollar car.

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Cue “Eye of the Tiger” – it’s time for a battle royale between security’s top performers. In its recent Vendor Landscape: Annual Security Roundup, Info-Tech selected just six vendors that scored across multiple product categories and pitted them against each other to find out who would emerge victorious.

If you want to get technical, there really are no losers in this battle of security’s best, as each vendor did well in their respective evaluations; however, this wouldn’t be a fight without a victor.

So who was left standing in the ring?

The champion’s corner was actually occupied by two vendors: heavyweight McAfee and middleweight Sophos. All the vendors were evaluated on an extensive MMA (Many, Many Acronyms) list related to their product offerings: UTM/NGFW, IDP, SSL VPN, Anti-Malware, Encryption, SIEM, and DLP, as well as on price, and vendor strength.

What made Sophos and McAfee champs?

Sophos, small in comparison to McAfee, is steadily growing through acquisitions and impressive products. Its solutions tend to offer comprehensive capabilities allowing for optimal protection via the lowest number of deployed tools. Sophos’ solutions are also relatively inexpensive compared to its competitors.

McAfee is one of the most well-known names in the security market. It’s the only vendor that had products across the board: network security, endpoint security and security management (making it the winner of the Innovation Award as well). It features a significant market differentiator in its ePolicy Orchestrator (ePO), a holistic management platform that allows for seamless management of the entire McAfee stack via a single console. Of course, if you want a top name, you’ll be paying a top price; but it might be worth it for a strong product from an equally strong vendor.

Juniper put up a good fight, coming out as an Innovator. This vendor is known for customizable solutions that are ideal for companies where cost is a major concern. But while they have a decent product offering, they suffer in terms of deployment capabilities.

Symantec suffered a few bumps and bruises as a Market Pillar, but still remains the largest security and anti-malware vendor. Part of its positioning was due to its costly and architecturally complex solutions that only hit part marks in terms of advanced features. Symantec’s solution tends to be a “jack of all trades, master of none.” It’s one of the most stable vendors in the market, with broad partner networks and comprehensive support programs. Symantec is an ideal choice for customers looking to start a long-term relationship with a vendor.

The original firewall company, Check Point, came out as another Market Pillar. It has stability in the market, and innovative capabilities with its software blade architecture, which allows enterprises to deploy just the functionalities it requires and manage them centrally. But where it succeeds in innovation, it suffers in price with some of the costlier solutions.

Rounding out the list is Emerging Player Trend Micro. Despite being the third largest anti-malware vendor and originator of reputation-based scanning, Trend has a narrow product portfolio and somewhat expensive products. However, you can’t deny that Trend is still an endpoint protection innovator.

For more information on the best of the best in security, refer to Info-Tech’s Annual Security Roundup.

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It wasn’t very long ago that wireless access was seen as a luxury. Today the idea of an office or public space without Wi-Fi  is starting to sound quaint.

Widespread availability of fast wireless access has largely enabled the proliferation of mobile applications that depend on it – and that dependence in turn has contributed to further investments in network reliability and speed, and on it goes.

Vendors have tried promoting the idea of the wireless enterprise for years. Now with tablets and other consumer-driven wireless devices penetrating the enterprise, it’s starting to look imminent.

The barriers preventing the wireless enterprise from becoming reality (e.g. concerns about security and reliability) are merely perceived limitations which have already been overcome with improved standards (as we wrote back in July) – with the notable exception of speed, which we expect to double on average every 18 months for the foreseeable future.

So it’s time to take a fresh look at our newly updated WLAN Vendor Landscape. A few things have changed since last time we showed you the space.

Cisco is still the market-share leader but competition is getting tougher. Juniper is a new entrant through its acquisition of Trapeze Networks and appears very committed to the market. Motorola likewise has polished the branding around its portfolio. HP and Enterasys continue to offer integrated networking portfolios at aggressive prices. Aruba continues to innovate while maintaining its reputation for reliable, secure wireless networks. And Ruckus, Aerohive, Meraki and Meru are the other pure-play vendors driving innovation in the space, making wireless LANs more reliable and easier to use than you may have seen in the past.

See all the details and customize your own shortlist with Info-Tech’s new online vendor selection tool featured in Vendor Landscape: Wireless LAN.

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Recently Info-Tech reviewed the Firewall / Unified Threat Management / Next Generation Firewall (UTM hereafter for sake of ease) market, including the following notable vendors:

Champions

WatchGuard, with its balance of strong product and vendor capabilities at a market-leading price-point, leads with a UTM solution that can deliver benefits to any organization.

SonicWALL has strong all round capabilities, focus on the Small/Medium enterprise, and price points that are hard to ignore making this an easy vendor to like.

Fortinet helped define the UTM term and space, and still leads the market with unmatched feature/functionality; pricing stabilization has eliminated its long-standing Achilles’ Heel.

Value Award:

WatchGuard‘s combination of stable and committed vendor, well-rounded product, and rock-bottom pricing earns the company the Best Overall Value Award.

Innovation Award:

Palo Alto Networks, with its App-ID, Content-ID, and User-ID technologies has defined the next frontier of perimeter protection, and established the new bar for the market.

When selecting a network perimeter protection solution, Info-Tech recommends you keep the following three things in mind:

  1. The only traffic that counts any more is HTTP/S: As all traffic becomes Web traffic, controlling traffic flow by protocol becomes keyed to digging into Port 80 (and 443) traffic.
  2. Inbound no longer the only direction in which threats flow: As security focus has shifted from infrastructure to data, protection needs to address outbound flow as much as inbound attacks.
  3. Firewalls can’t protect against traffic they can’t see: Encrypted traffic obfuscates threats from Firewalls while WiFi networks allow attacks to bypass them entirely; modern solutions must also control these traffic types.
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