Firewalls have been an enterprise battleground for many years. Every organization needed them, so it was only natural that vendors would compete over market dominance in the large category.
That has given rise to constant change and innovation on the firewall front and a healthy dose of marketing hype. After the firewall market became saturated, vendors came out with next-generation firewalls (NGFW) and other terms. In essence, these are firewalls plus various other functions.
Here are five of the top trends in the firewall market:
1. Hardware firewalls diminish
Demand for software-as-a-service (SaaS)- and virtual-based network security is anticipated to represent 51% of the $33 billion total network security market revenue in 2026, according to the recently published “Network Security 5-Year Forecast Report” by Dell’Oro Group.
Firewalls represent a big slice of this market. Physical firewall appliance revenue, which was over 75% of total hardware-based network security revenue in 2020, is expected to grow at 7% per year between 2021 and 2026, being outpaced by SaaS- and virtual-based web application firewalls (WAFs).
“Since the arrival of the first network security appliances in the 1980s, the network security market has been dominated by an assortment of purpose-built boxes, but we see a seismic shift taking place,” said Mauricio Sanchez, research director of network security, Dell’Oro Group.
“Between enterprises embracing cloud applications and hybrid work as the new normal, we see them preferring SaaS- and virtual-based network security solutions that serve these use cases better. This is not to say that we see hardware security appliances disappearing, but they no longer represent the vanguard of network security they once were.”
2. Web application firewalls
SaaS- and virtual-based web application firewalls (WAFs) are anticipated to experience a compounded annual growth (CAGR) of 25% between 2021 and 2026, according to Sanchez with Dell’Oro Group.
The rate of growth is over 3x higher than the growth rate for physical firewall appliances over the same period.
Driving the strong growth is the increased number of enterprise applications being made accessible on the internet to both friends — or employees, clients, and partners — and foes, or hackers.
Everything else is now a service: backup-as-a-service, network-as-a-service, compute-as-a-service; so why not firewall-as-a-service (FWaaS)?
Vendors are now offering all the capabilities of firewall tools and packages as a service. This saves IT having to deploy, maintain, monitor, and manage their own firewalls.
“Workloads, applications, services, and storage continue to shift to the cloud, making it more difficult for IT organizations to secure and control information, which is increasing the risk of security threats,” said Michael Wood, CMO, Versa Networks.
“A solution to mitigating security exposures in this multicloud environment is to shift ingress protection to firewall-as-a-service and combine this with services, such as SWG, CASB, ZTNA, and SD-WAN.
“IT will deploy SASE more pervasively, as it enables this converged model, while delivering improved security policy administration, end-user protection, and cloud application security.”
4. Lack of talent
The lack of IT talent is another factor moving the firewall market toward the as-a-service model.
After all, installing and configuring a firewall can be complex depending on the environment, the requirements of the customer, and the ever-changing cybersecurity landscape.
It is vital that the firewall be configured properly to not only protect an organization’s network, but also avoid interrupting business activities by accidentally blocking traffic that should be allowed through.
“Training technicians in every nuance of firewall operations can be time-consuming and expensive, especially in cases where turnover in technical staff is happening every few months,” said Christopher Crellin, senior director of product management, Barracuda MSP.
Further, having someone monitoring the firewalls 24/7 is essential for cybersecurity, as hackers are located around the globe and can strike at any time. Having this continuous monitoring enables the organization to detect and respond to threats before they can cause significant harm.
Ultimately, having a managed firewall service ensures that the firewalls are properly configured and monitored, so the business doesn’t have to worry as much about in-depth training.
As such, the core minimum features organizations should look for in a managed firewall service are alignment with best practices for installation and configuration, 24/7 monitoring, and in-depth reporting that allows the business to have good visibility into their environment.
5. Firewalls are no longer enough
A good firewall, well managed by IT experts, was seen as the primary element of any enterprise security posture. Not anymore.
These days, firewalls or FWaaS, are still needed. But they need heavy support from a great many other security elements.
“Every day, hackers, industrial espionage, and numerous sorts of malware hunt for new methods to infiltrate your systems and processes,” said Tommy Smith, VP of marketing at Avertium.
“Anti-virus software and firewalls aren’t enough anymore. You need a managed security services provider (MSSP) who specializes in sophisticated solutions, like SIEM, preemptive security features, and early detection systems.”