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The Difference Between UTM and NGFW

I got a call from a potential customer the other day while driving in the car with my family.  After listening to the flood of TLAs (three letter acronyms) in the conversation, my daughter asked me what all that alphabet soup meant.  Many customers wonder the same thing.  What is DLP (data loss prevention) and why do you need it?  Is IPS (intrusion prevention system) the same as APT (advanced persistent threat) and which one should you use?  And so on.  One of the biggest questions we hear is “what is NGFW (next generation firewall) and how is it different from UTM (unified threat management.)  The real answer is that it isn’t as different as you might think.  Let me explain.

UTM was born in SMB (small-to-midsized business.)  It usually refers to a single box with multiple security technologies running on it (1). SMBs love it because it’s drop-dead simple to deploy and gives them every security feature they need in a single platform.  NGFW is a subset of functionality, typically only 2 or 3 of the modules running on a single box.  Yet, although it is less functional, many larger corporations tend to prefer to break up technology by location – they prefer to deliberately architect their security solutions to put the required security appliance close to the item it is protecting.  E.g. the IPS belongs at the perimeter, but A/V and SPAM filtering belong next to the email server, etc.

Regardless of company size, and certainly regardless of which solution people choose, UTM or NGFW, WatchGuard is a very strong believer in unifying multiple scan engines onto a single box.  It just makes sense.  You needn’t pay for additional hardware, OS licenses, maintenance contracts, etc.  In addition, it gives you the best chance of combatting today’s multi-vectored threats.  Rather than keeping security tools in silos, with a different box / console / policy for each one, unify your security into the form factor that makes the most sense.

Perhaps the promise of lower operating costs combined with increased levels of security is what’s driving the growth in the integrated security market right now.  Leading analyst firm IDC tracks the growth of the UTM market specifically at more than 13% this year.  That’s the single highest growth rate in the network security market.  When that many customers vote with their dollars, euros, pesos, and baht, WatchGuard notices and works even harder to give you the tools you need to succeed.

1. Gateway antivirus, SPAM blocking, URL filtering, Intrusion Prevention, Data Loss Prevention, Reputation Authority, etc.

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