Hillstone Networks Expands Its Security Portfolio With CloudArmour

By Patrick Moorhead - May 23, 2022

The cybersecurity space is big – really big. The current state of geopolitics has elevated security from top of mind to obsessive focus for every C-level executive at companies of all sizes and types around the globe. 

The CISOs and security professionals charged with protecting environments don’t have it easy. In addition to the daily attacks, threats and increasing attack surfaces and vectors brought about by modernization efforts, there is a seemingly endless list of companies that promise to solve all these security needs. There are well over 3,000 cybersecurity solutions in the market, targeting networks, the cloud, application infrastructure, end-users and more. 

I write all the above to paint a picture of the complexity of the cybersecurity space. If you are a security professional, you already know this to be true. This $146B industry is so big and complex for a good reason – it’s absolutely critical to protect your data as it originates, travels, rests and gets utilized.

There are a lot of names that immediately come to mind when cybersecurity is brought up – Cisco, Juniper, Palo Alto, Crowd Strike, Cloudflare, to name a few. The list can go on for quite a while. Each one of these companies is well known for a reason. One who doesn’t always get a lot of mention, but in my opinion should, is Hillstone Networks. Read on to see why I find the company interesting. 

With age comes wisdom, but sometimes age comes alone 

Oscar Wilde wrote the above quote. And he so's right, except in the world of cybersecurity vendors. Without wisdom, cybersecurity vendors don't age – instead, they lose customers and eventually shutter their doors. Longevity is a good measure of a cybersecurity vendor's effectiveness at protecting its customers. Hillstone, for its part, has aged well. The company formed in 2006 under current CTO Tim Liu and partners. Its first product, one of the industry's first multicore firewall products, found success in the market and was quickly followed by many other innovations.

Timeline of Hillstone Networks innovation. HILLSTONE NETWORKS

As you can see in the above graphic, Hillstone launched its first firewall into the market in 2008. Since then, it has continually evolved this core technology to stay not just relevant but ahead of the threat landscape that emerges with each market trend and inflection point. Its use of artificial intelligence (AI) to strengthen the protection of its platform is an excellent example of this. 

Another good example is Hillstone's extended detection & recovery (XDR) platform solution, iSource. For those familiar with XDR, it is a broader industry term that refers to collecting and correlating data across an organization's different functions (network, cloud, application, etc..). This is all presented to security professionals to make threat management (prevention, detection, response) easier, faster and automated. As I mentioned at the outset of this blog, cybersecurity is complex. XDR platforms are designed to make protecting environments a lot easier. 

The effectiveness of an XDR platform is only as good as the received data, how much of the data there is, the ability to find the signals in the noise and the ability to respond. In other words, is the XDR platform getting data from every facet of the network and from under every rock? Is the platform able to effectively find the proverbial needle in the haystack? And finally, can the XDR platform remove the threat and restore the environment to a known good state?

Hillstone could claim “yes” to all the above, given its portfolio and iSource’s ability to integrate with third parties through RESTful APIs.

An overview of Hillstone Networks' security portfolio. HILLSTONE NETWORKS

iSource is one part of the Hillstone security portfolio. As you can see in the graphic above, the company is looking to deliver comprehensive protections across the edge-to-cloud-to-core datacenter continuum. Not just in terms of hardened infrastructure, but through the tools that make managing security easier and more complete. 

CloudArmour – the latest addition to the portfolio

As cloud-native becomes the architecture of choice for organizations looking to modernize their business processes, the threat landscape becomes more complex. Applications and data run in a distributed, microservices model across several locations and environments.

Hillstone Networks' CloudArmour seeks to protect organizations across all deployment models or clouds.

While there are some inherent security advantages to a services-based architecture, it introduces a new risk. CloudArmour is Hillstone's response. The offering’s value prop has five pillars: visibility, detection, runtime protection, compliance and micro-segmentation. CloudArmour promises to provide these core capabilities across any deployment model and any cloud (or clouds). 

While each pillar brings distinct value, there are a couple of things the ex-IT professional in me likes about what Hillstone is doing with CloudArmour. On the visibility front, I like the centralized dashboard. Security professionals and IT folks have too much data to monitor. It reminds me of living in the city – eventually, you become numb to the sounds of the sirens racing past your apartment. My life is a lot easier by giving me a quick way to know the status of my Kubernetes clusters and hosts. And if a host suddenly turns red, I'll do a double click to get real insights and act. 

The other thing I like is CloudArmour's ML-based detection and runtime protection, which enables users to build behavior models to detect and mitigate risks in real-time – true automated threat detection and remediation. I often write about the need for IT organizations, in general, to transform operations to better align with the needs of the business. IT security professionals, in particular, can perhaps benefit more from technologies like CloudArmour as the threat landscape evolves so quickly. 

The opportunity for Hillstone 

Hillstone is very well-positioned in the cybersecurity space from a product portfolio capabilities perspective. Its solutions span many cybersecurity spaces and provide organizations with some of the fundamental elements of a zero-trust architecture. 

I believe the company has done the right things in terms of product capabilities, architectural openness, and partnerships. It is supported in the cloud, by both the major virtualization players and threat intelligence players. I believe these low-level go-to-market (GTM) functions have to be executed for product success.

The challenge and opportunity for Hillstone is really in that last mile, so to speak. The company should focus on raising its visibility in a crowded sea of solutions providers who spend more on awareness and marketing campaigns. With over 20,000 customers worldwide, the company is building products that work and instill confidence. It's just a matter of letting everyone else in on the secret. 

I'm looking forward to tracking these folks, and I'm sure the Moor Insights & Strategy security lead, Will Townsend, will have a few things to say about CloudArmour as it finds momentum in the market. Stay tuned.

Patrick Moorhead
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Patrick founded the firm based on his real-world world technology experiences with the understanding of what he wasn’t getting from analysts and consultants. Ten years later, Patrick is ranked #1 among technology industry analysts in terms of “power” (ARInsights)  in “press citations” (Apollo Research). Moorhead is a contributor at Forbes and frequently appears on CNBC. He is a broad-based analyst covering a wide variety of topics including the cloud, enterprise SaaS, collaboration, client computing, and semiconductors. He has 30 years of experience including 15 years of executive experience at high tech companies (NCR, AT&T, Compaq, now HP, and AMD) leading strategy, product management, product marketing, and corporate marketing, including three industry board appointments.