WatchGuard explains past acquisitions and new technologies

Opinion by Dan Raywood

I recently met with WatchGuard CEO Joe Wang in his first trip to the UK since his product line took a major overhaul.

I recently met with WatchGuard CEO Joe Wang in his first trip to the UK since his product line took a major overhaul.

WatchGuard inherited threat management and email and web content security solutions following its acquisition of BorderWare Technologies a year ago. Following this, it introduced a series of messaging and content security appliances in the shape of the XCS solutions.

These are built specifically for mid-tier and enterprise environments that require unparalleled inbound and outbound messaging security and comprehensive web content control for unified network, application and data protection.

With the launch of the Reputation Enabled Defense (RED) technology this summer, coupled with the new XCS and existing UTM security appliances, Wang claimed that the company is growing well, with the last three years the best in its history.

A key selling point for WatchGuard has been on the speed of the device. Wang said he often meets customers who say that they have anti-virus, intrusion prevention and a firewall, and he asks them to compare the speed and try their technology.

Wang said: “Bigger companies say that their existing security is not good enough, but as vendors bring in more chips and memory to make it faster we are the only company investing in software. Most companies have lost sight of how to improve UTM but many will not put in the time and effort.”

He explained the launch of the XCS Content Security solutions came from the BorderWare acquisition, which was done ‘to grow that part of the business' and add anti-spam, encryption and email and web security. Using the RED technology, which also came from the acquisition, it had to make it work and it put in the infrastructure to make it run faster.

Wang said: “BorderWare had a range of applications and Contact Security producing DLP and email security, so we now have the XTM. The content is virtualised and much more quicker than a traditional firewall, it offers a higher level of security.

“We have patented the technologies so it will never be email, there are so many technologies that if a customer wants more than a UTM box, but many just need a firewall and other vendors don't have web and email security.”

Jamie Pearce, who moved to WatchGuard from BorderWare and is now business manager for UK and Ireland, said that BorderWare was successful in government and the healthcare sector, and the combined technology allows for a more powerful firewall for bigger organisations and not just the small-to-medium businesses (SMB).

He said: “Look at DLP and you have to look at dedicated security, with the firewall we control web and email with the XCS. The NHS is protecting the endpoint, we plugged the gap to stop sensitive information leaking and with the XCS range we can stop information from getting out.

“You have got to deal with outbound and got to stop someone sending information, it is looking at blocking at the network level and outbound, it is not just malware and viruses, it does a control of what goes where and where to and can stop it.”

Wang did admit that there is some overlap between the UTM and XCS, but XCS is offering much more in a different area and UTM vendors have to offer more.

“With the sophistication of the product it is difficult to bring the technologies into the UTM, but because of the power required it makes sense to offer a ‘different system'. One company uses a UTM as a gateway and XCS to protect an existing UTM box,” he said.

The first version of XCS came out at the end of last year and version 9.1 came out last month with ‘increased performance'.

Wang said: “We wanted to bring technology to the SMB and had to focus on ease of use, so we added help with configuration and now have XCS in six models and with a smarter one for the SMB. Just because a customer is small it doesn't make it less of a need for security.”

Asked what he meant by ease of use, Wang said that the market is realising that companies do not tend to be so sophisticated and do not have in-house IT, but they are changing and want to take it to the cloud. Small companies are beginning to realise that the firewall is not enough and having a pure UTM is not enough and that is where the XCS comes in.

So what does the future hold for WatchGuard?

Wang said: “We will continue to improve our products, see new versions coming out, new technology and new areas. We now offer a deal that if someone buys a three-year software licence they get the hardware for free, it is about being faster, more capable, more secure and making improvements on the technology side. We have an easier step-up when customers are there and right now it is an optimum time.”


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