Gartner Research

Decision Point for Network Perimeters

Published: 10 July 2012

ID: G00235643

Analyst(s): Eric Maiwald , Daniel Blum


Like cities, modern IT environments must incorporate zoning of activities as well as traffic control. Network perimeters enforce network security zone boundaries using firewalls, VPNs, intrusion detection/prevention systems, and various filtering mechanisms. Today, a single firewall is no longer sufficient to cover the zoning requirements of a complex organization. This Decision Point guides readers through the architectural decision-making process for selecting network perimeter mechanisms to use at distributed sites and data centers.

Table Of Contents

Decision Point

Decision Context

  • Business Scenario
  • Architectural Context
  • Related Decisions

Evaluation Criteria

  • Requirements and Constraints
    • Enforce Network Security Zone Boundaries
    • Use Security Overlays to Include Mobile Systems and Remote Sites in a Zone
    • Enable Information Flows While Enforcing Policies
    • Required Perimeter Functions
    • Provide Enough Surety to Manage the Risk
    • Detect and Remediate Zone Perimeter Failure
    • Manage Perimeter Policy
    • Verify Configurations and Policies
  • Principles


  • Physical Perimeter Security
  • Sites and Direct or Indirect Internet Access
  • Perimeter Security Mechanisms in the Network
    • Network Firewalls
    • VPN Concentrators and Built-In VPNs
    • Proxy Systems
    • IDS/IPS Devices
    • Web Application Firewalls
    • Switched Network Firewalls
    • Network Devices
    • VLANs
  • Perimeter Security Mechanisms on Endpoints
  • Perimeter Security Mechanisms within a Virtual Environment
  • Security Overlays vs. Perimeter Devices
  • Control and Audit Zones

Future Developments

Decision Tool

  • Per-Site External Perimeter Position
    • SOHO Perimeter Position
    • Smaller or Larger Site External Perimeter Position
    • Data Center Site External Perimeter Position
  • Per-Perimeter (Internal or External) Position
    • Physical or Logical Perimeter Security Position
    • Data Center Application Delivery Controllers and Internal Perimeters Position
    • Zone Perimeters Within an Internal Cloud Position
    • Monitoring Mechanisms Position
  • Control Zone Position
    • Separate control zone systems and traffic from other zones using a combination of perimeter devices and security overlay mechanisms.
  • Audit Zone Position
    • Separate audit zone systems and traffic from other zones using a combination of perimeter devices and overlay security mechanisms.
    • Protect audit information through other means.

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