October 14, 2011

Blue Coat, Websense, and the future of your security

Tom Clare

Recently, Blue Coat announced the end of support for Websense in the next version of ProxySG (v6.3) and noted that affected customers using Websense need to migrate to Blue Coat WebFilter. The announcement incorrectly states that Websense was not providing updates and support despite recently working together to solve a customer issue. Websense fully supports its integrated product versions and has an open offer to Blue Coat executives to integrate its real-time defenses to increase the security effectiveness provided to joint customers.

The ‘net-net’ is that Blue Coat, at its sole discretion, decided to end support for Websense, thus removing the option for customers to protect their networks with market-leading Websense® web filtering. The Websense solution is backed by the Websense ThreatSeeker® Network, which is now linked into Facebook and its more than 800 million users, plus the Advanced Classification Engine (ACE) with its multiple defenses and real-time composite scoring to detect advanced threats and stop data-stealing attacks.

Over the years, Blue Coat has been challenged to develop product solutions on two fronts, one being web security and the other WAN optimization. Resources at Blue Coat are limited, and trade-offs have to be considered: Blue Coat had seven product releases over the past five years, and they were focused on WAN optimization, not security.

Security advancements in ProxySG and the underlying operating system SGOS have been few, if any, per-product release cycles during these years, including the most recent release v6.2. An example of trade- offs includes changing SGOS v5.x to allow non-compliant protocol traffic by default to make WAN optimization deployments easier at the expense of security. The other side of release cycles is software testing, and that can be a major bottleneck and delay in time to market (even more so when building WAN optimization into a web proxy). In order for Blue Coat to sustain advancements in ProxySG for web security, they have to try to do more with less.

Removing custom SDKs that support market-leading web filtering is one way to accomplish this objective at an expense to customers. The result for Blue Coat appears to be less code, less testing, less functionality, fewer support issues, and faster time to market for a release cycle. For an organization facing  escalating feature requests from customers and declining rankings in analyst quadrants, they are faced with cutting back to the basics and trying to move forward. The big question is if there is enough runway to lift off and change the downward slide in web security at Blue Coat.

Please read the following document here to read why you should consider Blue Coat as a tactical solution and Websense as a longer-term strategic web defense.

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