Network firewalls are still an important part of enterprise security, according to the results of FireMon's State of the Firewall report. In fact, 94 percent of respondents to the report said firewalls remain a critical part of IT infrastructure and will remain so for at least the next five years.
FireMon is in the business of security policy orchestration for different technologies, including firewalls. Its 16-page report, which was released on Aug. 15, surveyed 334 IT decision-makers about how and where they use firewall technologies.
"We continue to see an increase in the number of firewalls that need to be managed every year," Dan Lamorena, chief marketing officer at FireMon, told eWEEK. "What is changing is that we are seeing more firewalls that are virtual and potentially residing in the cloud."
FireMon’s study also found that organizations are putting financial resources behind their continued use of firewall technologies. Twenty-four percent of respondents indicated that they spend more than 25 percent of their total network security budget on firewall technologies. Thirty-nine percent said they invest between 10 and 24 percent of their network budgets on firewalls.
An increasing use case for firewalls is in the cloud. The FireMon study found that 53 percent of organizations have either fully or partially adopted a public and/or hybrid cloud model. Despite organizations’ use of the cloud, only 35 percent of respondents said they believe firewalls provide "high value" for their cloud services.
"As we look to the future, we expect that cloud deployments will increase, container use will increase," Lamorena said. "Yet the large base of installed firewalls and complexity of the policy will still be a major challenge."
Among the challenges for enterprise firewall deployments is rule complexity, which was identified by 30 percent of respondents. Another key challenge (cited by 17 percent of organizations) is policy compliance and audit readiness. Fourteen percent of respondents cited firewall rule optimization as a challenge.
FireMon also noted in its report that organizations are using an increasing number of firewalls. Thirty-three percent of respondents said their organization manages between 10 and 99 firewalls, while 26 percent said they manage 100 or more firewalls. Adding to the challenge of managing large numbers of firewalls is the fact that policies are constantly changing. Forty percent of respondents said they process between 10 and 99 requests each week for firewall policy changes.
Lamorena said enterprise customers have told FireMon that they have selected different approaches to firewall management for various reasons, based on their current configuration, industry and risk constraints.
"The complexity of managing a network security environment is only increasing, and this complexity is leading to failed compliance audits and misconfigurations that lead to vulnerabilities and overworking already understaffed networking teams," he said.
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.