Better known for its security software, Symantec has decided to follow the trend towards all-in-one appliances by announcing a new range of intrusion prevention (IPS) hardware for internal network monitoring.

On sale from next month, the Series 7100 will consist of three boxes, the 7120, 7160 and 7161, that vary from 50Mbit/s to 2Gbit/s in throughput across up to 8 network segments. These will cover network core to branch office.

In fact the entry-level 7120, which comes with a single PSU, can manage 200Mbit/s throughput but will be configured to run at 50Mbit/s unless upgraded by licence to the higher figure or a 100Mbit/s intermediate point.

The other two models come with dual power supplies, the difference between them being that the 7161 can handle 1000 Base-X fibre in addition to Gigabit Ethernet.

All are based around the IPS engine the company has dubbed "Imune", a statistical monitoring technique which is claimed to be an effective way to stop worms propagating, prevent the growing worry of application exploits, and halt blended attacks of the ilk of MS Blaster and SQL Slammer.

Big claims are also being made for the "one click" method of switching between monitoring potential attacks to intervening to stop them going any further. In company marketing jargon this has been labelled "one click to prevention".

With the exception of its Gateway Security firewall, the company has hitherto steered away from this type of hardware, so the new appliances set the company firmly on the hardware path and against a growing number of rivals in a crowded space.

There have been signs that IPS is set to become a cheaper technology in future, but for the meantime it’s still a fair capital outlay for the claimed leading-edge security it offers.

The more cynical see the rush by vendors into IPS as another way to beef up the firewall concept to maintain high margins that were once enjoyed on such products.

Given that everyone now has perimeter firewalls, vendors are also keen to move the focus to securing networks from within and not simply at the perimeter, and this is the sort of product that sets out to do just that.

UK pricing has yet to be announced but the dollar prices will be $7,995 (7120), $23,995 (7160) and $26,995 (7161), which makes them about as expensive as most other vendors. This includes up to one year’s telephone support, advanced replacement and updates.