Over the past few weeks you’ve been reading a lot of different perspectives in this space regarding the “Future of the Firewall” (and if you haven’t please see the related archive).

In these posts authored by leading practitioners, analysts and industry experts, and those blogs that will follow, there’s been a lot said about the critical role that firewalls have played in the evolution of network security, and how they will continue to shape the future.

To help put these concepts and opinions into context, we’re happy to announce that we’ll shortly publish the results of a related research project, the State of the Firewall 2014 Survey.

For those interested in a sneak peek into the data to be presented in the report, please join our related webcast scheduled for tomorrow (or if reading his at a later date, click on the same link to hear a recorded version and/or receive a copy of the report, once published).

What did this survey of 720-plus practitioners reveal?

Among the breakout results, that:

Firewalls remain highly strategic despite pervasive management challenges, driven by a wide range of requirements, most notably API integration and NGFW capabilities.

Despite the continued evolution of network security solutions and methodologies, existing firewall infrastructure remains a key component of overall security strategy and will remain so in the future; at the same time, related management issues remain a significant challenge. To note, roughly 96 percent of respondents indicated that firewalls remain a “critical” element of overall security architecture, with 92 percent citing the devices as a central component of their plans over the next five years. Meanwhile, some 52 percent noted existing management concerns, led by firewall rules/policy complexity. Perhaps most surprisingly, when taken as a whole, firewall buying decisions are now influenced as much, if not more, based on matters of API integration and NGFW capability than on aspects of price or performance.

Next-generation devices are seen as critical and being adopted gradually, with a wide range of intentions and a broad set of related management and migration concerns.

As highlighted in the preceding conclusions, ongoing adoption of NGFWs and the related feature set is being approached incrementally as a practical element of the same value-based buying process leveraged in acquisition of traditional firewalls. While 42 percent of respondents indicated that NGFWs still make up less than 25 percent of their overall network security infrastructure or none at all, nearly all practitioners surveyed expressed pervasive interest across all the various features offered by next-generation systems. At the same time, survey respondents indicated widespread concern related to numerous challenges involved in NGFW management and migration, across nearly every involved process, from optimizing rule sets and correctly enforcing access controls, to minimizing the impact on operations, respectively.

Firewalls will play a significant role in emerging cloud, SDN and DevOps paradigms, which are viewed as major shifts in overarching matters of network evolution.

Survey results firmly establish that cloud computing, SDN and DevOps are widely viewed as key technology platforms for adoption, but not without support from firewalls. While a majority 59 percent of respondents indicated that cloud computing, SDN and DevOps represent fundamental shifts in networking evolution, the survey also finds that 43 percent of practitioners believe existing concepts of access control will remain a critical element of related best practices. Further, 58 percent of respondents specifically reinforced that both traditional firewalls and NGFWs will play a significant role in securing cloud environments. Related to adoption of DevOps, many more survey respondents indicated that current network firewall infrastructure does not stand to inhibit related efforts than those who indicated a belief that it does.

If these figures and the related trends pique your interest, you’ll certainly appreciate the depth of detail offered by the full State of the Firewall 2014 Report.

Tune into tomorrow’s webcast (live or after the fact) and register to get your copy, today.

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