McAfee Network IPS Catapults to “Top Spot” in Gartner Magic Quadrant

Gartner once again published its 2010 Magic Quadrant for Network Intrusion Prevention Systems.  While McAfee has consistently achieved placement in the “Leader’s Quadrant” for the past five years, it made a significant leap forward this year capturing the top spot by surpassing all competitors and accelerating past previous leaders in both vision and ability to execute.

As in previous years, Gartner continues to emphasize that Network IPS operating in in-line mode remains the primary driver for protecting the network while patches are deployed on the endpoints. As much as 65% of administrators deploy IPS inline as a “pre-patch” shield and continue to rely on vendor-recommended signatures for these deployments to avoid erroneous blocking.

Gartner also states “IPS has two primary performance drivers: the handling of the network traffic at near wire speeds, and the deep inspection of the traffic based on the signatures, rules and policy.”  Furthermore, bandwidth and inspection load along with protection signatures has also driven IPS toward increasingly purpose-built appliances

Considering this, it’s no surprise that McAfee IPS captured the top spot beating all competitors and accelerating past previous leaders in both vision and ability to execute.

What are the driving forces behind this acceleration?

Security Focus:
– As a dedicated security company, McAfee is 100% focused on security products and research, in contrast to vendors like Cisco, Juniper, IBM, and HP whose core business lies outside of security.  Even after acquisition by Intel, McAfee will continue to operate at “arms length” as a wholly owned subsidiary maintaining its security focus as noted by Gartner.

Threat Intelligence:
– With over 400 in-house researchers and investment in extra-IPS intelligence with Global Threat Intelligence that includes file, URL, and IP reputation – no other vendor provides a complete offering.

Consistency in Leadership
– McAfee Network IPS has been continually placed in Gartner’s MQ for Vision and Execution for over five years.
– Vendors like Cisco, Juniper, and IBM/ISS have either never crossed into the Leader’s Quadrant or have not been able to maintain a foothold over time.


– Gartner believes McAfee’s growth from endpoint security vendor to network security leader represents the only true ‘security crossover’ success story in the security space. This compared to Cisco, Sourcefire and Juniper’s non-success in the endpoint.

– Gartner notes that McAfee IPS is the greatest competitor – appearing on customer shortlists three time more often than the nearest competitor.
– This is validated by McAfee’s gain in marketshare as noted by Infonetic research.  McAfee’s growth is threatening to surpass Cisco to claim the #1 spot and in some markets has already surpassed the infrastructure giant.

Signature Quality:
– McAfee IPS offers the best signature quality in recommended policy without requiring extensive custom signatures overcoming the challenges customers face as outlined by Gartner and NSS.

Third party certification:
– More recently, Gartner has started to add more color around actual performance and quality of detection by considering independent validation of products as part of the MQ placement criteria.
– For the past five years, McAfee IPS has achieved the highest marks in NSS Labs testing with the Comparative Group Test results reflecting the results amongst peers.
– McAfee IPS is the only vendor that continually shatters IPS performance barriers by achieving the highest throughput without skimping on security.  Unlike other vendors that hesitate to certify low end products, McAfee continually submits the highest products for validation.

As Gartner noted, network bandwidth and inspection load along with increase in signatures have driven IPS toward purpose-built appliances.  McAfee recognized this need from the beginning and built the product from the ground up with exactly this type of architecture.

For Gartner, McAfee is in an extremely strong position compared to other vendors—offering market-moving innovation, network-class performance and security, financial health and stability, execution and vision, and a proven commitment to the network security marketplace.

The full report is available for review at Gartner’s 2010 Network Intrusion Prevention Magic Quadrant.


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