Cisco Systems overtook Check Point Software as market leader in the burgeoning VPN sector in 2003, with both companies ahead of third place Netscreen.
Worldwide VPN and firewall appliance and software revenues rose to $2.4bn last year, up 13 per cent on 2002.
Nokia (Check Point's key appliance partner), Nortel, SonicWALL, Symantec, and WatchGuard remain strong second-tier players, according to the latest edition of Infonetic's quarterly VPN and firewall market survey.
VPN and firewall appliance revenue hit $1.9bn last year (up 16 per cent) even as security software sales dropped six per cent, reflecting a historic shift in the market from software and hardware-based security products.
Continued demand for improved security, the arrival of SSL VPN technology, and the cost saving benefits of VPNs fuelled rising sales. Infonetics predicts the appliance market will continue to grow over the next two years.
Jeff Wilson, principal analyst at Infonetics Research, said: "The appliance market will continue steady growth through at least 2006, as there are still new vendors entering the market, and plenty of innovation and price pressure to make this market interesting. Juniper's acquisition of NetScreen will make for a very exciting battle between Cisco and Juniper in the years to come."
Infonetics study follow a recent survey by analysts Datamonitor which predicted that global spending on firewall and virtual private network (VPN) technology will double over the next three years to reach almost $6bn in 2007. ®