This month sees the soft launch in the UK of a tiny but rapidly-growing Austrian start-up that reckons it can knock some zeroes off the security appliance sales of goliaths Cisco, Juniper, and Check Point.
It sounds like an unlikely ambition, but newcomer and IPO success Phion is flush with success, having recently outbid rivals to win a huge 2,500 location contract with the German Post Office. The company claims it has become a serious player in the Austrian, German, and Swiss market, and boasts of particular success in the financial and manufacturing sectors.
Phion now plans to market most of its extensive range of security products to UK customers, but the accent will be on its UTM-like branch office security boxes, known under the 'netfence M' sub-brand. These run from 100 to 1,000 users in capacity.
"We found that nobody was looking for many firewalls. They [IT admins] were tired of having lots of them," says CEO and co-founder Wieland Alge in his pitch on why the UTM concept makes sense in this segment.
Hailing from the Tyrol, and founded by a trio of young physicists, the company has one large mountain to climb: it has yet to announce any resellers. An announcement on that is promised in a matter of weeks. In Germany, the company uses Computacenter, but this partner will be crucial in properly promoting an unknown name.
Is there anything that makes the company stand out in the crowded UK security market? Financial services is the reason why the UK still is by some measures the second largest market for security hardware in the world, but that has been heading south recently. Some banks appear to be struggling to get their waste paper bins emptied, never mind fund new security systems. Investment could founder in the short term.
The UK has been here before with continental security start-ups. French appliance and web blocking vendor Deny All launched in late 2004, but struggled to break the market stranglehold of the larger companies. Time will tell whether Phion will turn out to be the exception that proves the rule: security is still a market in need of consolidation.
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