Security company Watchguard is to introduce a new family of multifunction appliances called XTM - extensible threat management - which it said will push unified threat management to a new level.

The company said the devices would add security support for VoIP, network access control and virtual environments as well as event correlation and data loss protection. The hardware could be clustered to scale for high-throughput sites, the company said.

Watchguard competes against a host of other vendors in the UTM category, notably Check Point, Cisco, Fortinet, IBM, Juniper, Secure Computing and SonicWall.

The XTM family will enable customers to choose exactly what security functions it wants the device to perform rather than being forced into buying bundles of capabilities, some of which they may not interest them, the company said.

According to Watchguard, security in the platform will extend to address new risks associated with web capabilities such as peer-to-peer networking and use of mashups.

The line will follow Watchguard's formula of hardware that can be upgraded to a higher performing model without swapping out one box for another, instead using software keys to turn on capabilities built into the gear at the factory. The company also promises to beef up its management platform based on standards.

Watchguard's current UTM devices, called Firebox X, support a firewall, SSL and IPSec VPNs, anti-spyware, anti-virus and anti-spam software and services, URL filtering and intrusion prevention.

The company says it plans to make announcements about specific XTM products later this year.