Like many companies in the digital networking or security business here at Interop in Las Vegas, Borderware is one of those vendors that started off with one carrier-class solution (a straight firewall appliance that competed with outfits like Checkpoint) and then, as distinctly separate efforts that leveraged the in-house expertise that went into the first solution, built similar solutions but for other vertical categories. After its firewall appliance came an e-mail specific firewall to handle the growing threat from spam (and later other e-mail transgressions such as phishing) and then after the e-mail firewall came a SIP firewall to help protect SIP-based (Session Initiated Protocol) applications such as instant messaging and Voice-over-IP (VoIP) that most agree represent are the new frontier of exploitation for the same scammers that took advantage of SMTP (the internet standard for e-mail).
As a result of pursuing three distinctly separate network security verticals with separate products and strategies, BorderWare has now arrived in 2005 at a place where it would rather not be -- a vendor of unintegrated solutions that makes its customers work harder to get a single view of what's going on around the network. To address the problem, BorderWare's new CEO Tim Leisman (pictured above right), who has only been with the company for four months, has put BorderWare on track to come up with a common architecture with which all of the company's products must comply. From a management perspective, having a single architecture means that users will only need one console to get a picture of what's happening at the internet, e-mail, and SIP firewalls and whatever other solutions come along. Currently, the first version of any of the three existing solutions that complies with the new architecture is version 5.0 of the BorderWare's MXtreme e-mail firewall with others to follow. While Leisman says he has no new single-stop integrated solutions to announce here at Interop, he said not to rule it out (in other words, stay tuned).
The strategy is strikingly similar to the one described earlier this morning by Cisco CEO John Chambers who demonstrated during his Interop keynote how the company has come up with a single blade like architecture into which Cisco's equipment snaps, and a single security software layer that crosses many of Cisco's offerings to provide network managers with a unified view. Although I'm not sure I agree, Leisman doesn't see Cisco and BorderWare as competitors. He sees the two companies as offering complimentary solutions. In the interview with Leisman, which is available as both an MP3 download and as a podcast that you can have downloaded to your system and/or MP3 player automatically (see ZDNet’s podcasts: How to tune in), Leisman also discussed with me the challenges of centralized management consoles. For example, will other vendors who also make products that keep networks running be able to plug their products into the architecture (answer: Yes) and, to the extent that bigger companies like Cisco are doing the same thing, does it really make sense for everybody to be working towards separate unified views (one view from one vendor, another from another).
Perhaps there's a bit of back-to-the-future in the renamed Interop (was Networld+Interop, but now just Interop -- the name of a show dating back to the late eighties and early nineties). Back in the early days of the original Interop, I can remember certain standing room-only birds of a feather (BOF) sessions where the hard interoperability lessons-learned from building the event's "Shownet" were discussed and what could be done in the way of standards (particularly on the Simple Network Management Protocol [SNMP] front) to ease the pain (who remembers ToasterNet?). Are we right back to where we started more than a decade ago? Listen to the interview to see what Leisman has to say, hear his pitch, and let your fellow ZDNet readers know what you think using our Talkback below.