The market for centralized security management products is heating up and will be subject to a shakeout over the next few years as larger players enter the fray and acquisitions change the landscape.

This is according to a report dubbed "Network Security Management: the Binding Force of I-Security" by ICA Syndicate, the publishing arm of the research and strategy firm Intellectual Capital Associates.

Network security management (NSM) products integrate and correlate alerts and data from multiple security point products -- such as firewalls, anti-virus software and intrusion detection systems -- in an effort to provide a more comprehensive security snapshot of an enterprise.

ICA puts the NSM market at about $300 million now, but says it is poised to grow at about 40% a year. That is three times faster than the ant-virus and IDS markets, although those markets are considerably more mature. Bear Stearns estimates NSM sales will hit $1.2 billion by 2004, according to the report.

While to date the market has been dominated by startups focused solely on the NSM area, such as e-Security, Inc., Open, Intellitactics and PentaSafe, ICA predicts more larger players will soon jump in. IBM already has, with its Tivoli SecureWay product, as have BMC and Computer Associates, to varying degrees.

This summer, vendors of security point products will start delivering NMS systems, ICA says. They include Internet Security Systems, Symantec and Network Associates, which is counting on its ePolicy Orchestrator to be the cornerstone of its NMS strategy. Long-term, ICA expects only "one or two" of the independent NSM companies to survive all the way to an IPO, while others will be acquired by more established players, in keeping with the "acquisitive nature" of both network management and security companies.