Best firewalls for the enterprise

Friday, 20 June 2003, 1:47 AM EST

The enterprise firewall market is a study in contradictions. Translation: The market is in such a state of flux that enterprises facing a buying decision have some tough choices to make and might be better off waiting until the smoke clears. But few enterprises have that luxury.

Why the changes? Over the last few years, the leading firewall vendors in the space have focused their attention on protecting the packet layer of networks. But today, the biggest threat to networks is at the application layer, so these vendors are having to switch gears and rework their products to suit customer needs. At the same time, there are vendors that -- while claiming just a small share of the market -- have been offering application-level protection all along.

And those are not the only thorny questions facing buyers. Appliance versus software choices, virtual private networking capabilities and firewall throughput also come into play.

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