Last week I had the pleasure of meeting with Palo Alto Networks, a brand that made a huge impact at the recent Infosec show with its declaration that ‘the firewall is dead'.

I met with vice president of product management Lee Klarich, who was in London on a junket to talk about and promote the recently launched PAN-OS 3.0 operating system software, for firewalls naturally.

The story was a typical product announcement and although it was good to hear about this new development and the fact that quality of service and a fully integrated SSL VPN remote access are incorporated, what I wanted to hear more about was their beliefs that the firewall is dead, or at least needed to be fixed.

Palo Alto, and Klarich's opinion in this case, is that developments to applications have rendered the firewall outdated and incapable of deciphering what is inbound and assessing what it scanning.

Klarich said: “The firewall has been developed to sit on the network and scan in and outbound traffic, the notion of classifying traffic is based on protocol, it looks at traffic and decides what it is and whether to allow it.

“Then someone realised how it worked and brought out applications to go into another port. The example here is with Google, it has docs, earth etc. they are all going through the port and the firewall doesn't understand what it is looking at and therefore doesn't work.”

Klarich claimed that this is the basis of its statement that the firewall is dead, and that the lines are ‘blurring from the firewall as to what is going in and out'.

Naturally there are many opinions as to whether what Palo Alto is saying is true or not, and I am sure there are many that will rubbish their claims, but in my capacity as a reporter it is interesting to hear a different opinion and gauge what some may deem to be controversial.

Klarich said: “Every firewall is based on stateful inspection where each application fits into a port. Now we are using the firewall as a secure device, the challenge of it is different to the challenge facing the firewall. Any other company will cover it with new products, creating a patchwork of products to what one can do when designed and used properly.”

With what Palo Alto are saying, and with their determined and forceful method of broadcasting their message, I still maintain my position that this is a brand to keep an eye on.