The rise of unified threat management (UTM) technology was one of the key drivers as the security appliance market finished 2012 in style.
According to IDC stats, Q4 global revenue rose 7.2 per cent year on year to $2.3bn (£1.5bn), while unit shipments spiked 5.2 per cent to 538,428. Growth outpaced that of the prior quarter, when revenue and shipments rose 6.3 and 1.3 per cent respectively.
The western European region showed signs of recovery in Q4, with the worth of the market growing 3.9 per cent year on year. But this growth was way behind the Asia-Pacific (excluding Japan) APeJ region, which enjoyed revenue growth of 18 per cent. The APeJ sphere accounted for almost one fifth of total worldwide sales in 2012's closing quarter.
Worldwide revenue from the UTM sphere increased 34.3 per cent during the quarter and the technology now contributes 35 per cent of total market sales. Firewall and VPN sales fell 2.8 per cent, claimed IDC, thus bringing to an end "10 consecutive quarters of steady growth". The firewall/VPN space now comprises 24 per cent of the wider market. The IPS market endured a testing quarter, with sales down 3.6 per cent as the technology lost ground to UTM in the mid-market.
Ebenezer Obeng-Nyarkoh, senior research analyst for IDC's Worldwide Trackers Group, said: "While businesses continue to explore the opportunities for migrating to a private cloud network as a new technology paradigm, unified security prospects will continue to expand rapidly into small and medium-size businesses where demand is greater than ever."
Cisco continues to head the vendor rankings, but its lead over second-placed Check Point has narrowed considerably in the past 12 months. In Q4 2012 the networking giant saw its security appliance revenue fall 5.9 per cent annually to $373m, while its market share fell more than two points to 15.5 per cent. Its Israeli rival boosted sales by 7.8 per cent to $267m, allowing it to hold on to 12.7 per cent of the market.
Juniper remains in third, but an eight per cent sales drop saw its market share fall more than a point to 6.9 per cent. Fourth-placed Fortinet saw its quarterly sales soar 27.2 per cent annually to $136m, allowing its share of the market to jump from 5.1 to six per cent.
Falling one place to fifth was McAfee, which saw sales down marginally to $116m. The software titan's market share stands at 5.2 per cent. The top five accounted for a combined total of 46.3 per cent of global sales in Q4.
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