Everyone should be aware of the concept that an innovation in one area can have unexpected consequences much farther down the line. Case in point is virtualization, which after initially being deployed in the server realm, is the hot new technology in the security and network appliance space. Just about everywhere you turn these days some vendor is rolling out a virtual appliance.
That's a good thing because it makes it easier to deploy these technologies. But the interesting side effect of all this virtualization may soon be a wave of acquisitions across the security and networking appliance category. For example, Zeus, a provider of application delivery controller software, just moved to acquire a German company called art of defence that makes an application firewall that can be deployed as a virtual appliance.
The two companies had an existing partnership so the acquisition itself is not all that surprising. But what's making it easier for acquisitions such as these to proceed is that many companies that were once providers of hardware platforms are now becoming independent software vendors. As such, it makes it a whole easier to merge the functionality of these new ISVs onto a common platform. In fact, many of these virtual appliances appear to be candidates for being rolled up into what are now being called "gateways." These gateways typically make use of multicore processors capable of running multiple types of virtual appliance workloads simultaneously.
Kosten Metreweli, chief strategy officer for Zeus, says it's clear that the line between software, appliances and gateways is definitely starting to blur, which should make for some interesting time ahead. The good news is that from an IT perspective, there should be a lot less appliance sprawl at the edge of the network. The bad news is it may be hard to tell for a little while which vendor is going to be here today versus gone tomorrow