Gartner MQ Secure Email Gateways: Market Moves to SaaS, Microsoft, Proofpoint, Symantec DominantIf Gartner’s recently published Magic Quadrant for Secure Email Gateways is anything to go by, email security is still a major concern for many enterprises. As a result, the market grew by nearly 2% last year. Some vendors, however, are bucking the low-growth trend with Proofpoint and Symantec showing double digit growth as potential buyers look to SaaS deployments.

The market has also thrown up some clear leaders, according to Gartner. Market Leaders, or those that made it into the Leader’s Magic Quadrant, provide clients with a comprehensive and proficient range of email security functionality, and are reacting to market changes rapidly as interest in SaaS solutions grows.

In alphabetic order, those in the Leader’s Magic Quadrant include: Cisco, McAfee, Microsoft, Proofpoint, and Symantec.

SEG Market Context

But first to the market. The Secure Email Gateway (SEG) space has now reached saturation point, according to Gartner, which is not entirely surprising given its maturity.

As long as there has been email, vendors have been developing security tools and applications to protect email, so much so that, at this point, 87% of the vendors that made it into this MQ are either in the Leader’s or the Challengers Quadrant.

The continued development of this market also shows that despite the rise of social media and networks, email is still the most commonly used method of communicating across the enterprise, or outside the firewall.

While that may change, it is unlikely that it will be anytime soon. In the meantime, enterprises are forced to protect themselves using whatever method best suits their workplaces.

However, this is not just about the odd malicious email, or spam attack. This is about protecting one of the most used -- and consequently most vulnerable -- entry points into the enterprise infrastructure.

To be clear about this, SEG includes protection from email spam and malware as well as providing outbound email content inspection and encryption. Its importance and maturity is underlined by the fact that that the market penetration rate of SEG commercial solutions is close to 100% of all enterprises.

With this kind of maturity and availability, buyers can afford to be picky about pricing. According to Gartner in the research for this MQ, 80% said that price was an important, or very important, issue in making a decision on what to buy.

Keeping this in mind, Gartner, as it does in all the other MQs, advices potential buyers to look at all the different options across the entire MQ before they buy. If buyers are looking for something on top of the basic functionality, they are as likely to find it outside the Leader’s Quadrant as inside it.

Inbound Email Security

All that said, and despite market maturity and the presence of SEG solutions in most enterprises, SEG is still a core element of enterprise security and an element that needs to be constantly revised.

Gartner points out that while global spam volumes declined slightly last year as spammers moved to other mediums like social networks, spam still accounts for 69% of all emails.

The number of phishing and malware attacks also declined slightly last year, but Gartner says email is still the preferred channel to launch advanced attacks of this kind.

The result is that for 98% of the respondents in this research, protection from targeted phishing attacks is their main priority with only a few vendors providing advanced functionality against these attacks.

For malware, the leading solutions are providing methods like proxy URL links in email to protect from link-based malware attacks, as well as the ability to strip active content from common document types like Office documents or PDFs to expose and suppress malicious content.

Bulk email filtering was also mentioned by a large number of enterprises with 82% saying that it was either an important, or very important capability in their current, or next SEG investment.

However, dissatisfaction with current bulk filtering capabilities was a common pain point for current solutions. While most solutions already come with “bulk” or “marketing” email classifiers, they are usually fairly clumsy and could be easily improved, Gartner says.

Outbound Email

Outbound email also continues to pose a problems, particularly in the area of Data Loss Prevention (DLP) and encryption, which in this MQ are the big differentiators between solutions. Gartner says 40% of respondents says they already have DLP functionality with a further 25% considering deployments in the coming two years.

Workflows for managing events and redeveloped content (common identifiers, dictionaries and regulatory policies) are the big differentiators here. Currently 39% are using added encryption while 25% say they will also be adding this in the coming two years.

Almost all of the vendors that made it into this MQ have some kind of encryption capabilities, but Gartner says there is considerable frustration with the ability of encryption for senders and recipients, especially those working off mobile devices.

A final point worth noting is that there is growing interest in virtual and SaaS solutions with vendors in these areas expanding vertically to include mailbox hosting, hosted archiving, e-discovery and continuity services.

Market Overview

Against this backdrop, revenue from this market is peaking as the market in general reaches saturation. SaaS solutions are increasingly popular in organizations that have less than 5000 employees because of lower total cost of ownership (TCO), but they are also becoming increasingly interesting for larger organizations that have widely distributed IT facilitates.

The market itself grew by 1.9% last year to US$ 1.4 billion and overall market growth is expected to be between 2% and 3% annually in the coming years.

Services like DLP and encryption will continue to be the main drivers of this growth while interest in traditional spam and virus-filtering services as well as subscription and license revenues will continue to decline.

There is a growing interest in suite bundling with more and more business going to Microsoft and Google for cloud mailboxes with both these vendors increasing their SEF share as a result. This will impact on other vendors because security and hygiene services will be provided with these cloud mailboxes.

This will be mirrored by an increasing interesting and acceptance in SaaS delivery with most of the vendors in this MQ already providing that. Gartner also points out in this respect that 80% of the inquiries it is receiving in respect of SEG are from clients asking about moving to SaaS models. While we have already seen that organizations of less than 5000 are increasingly interested in moving in this direction, those between 5000 and 20,000 seats see no significant advantage.

Tomorrow we will take a look at those that made it into the Leader’s Quadrant.

Image Courtesy of Sven Hoppe (Shutterstock)