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5 Cisco Alternatives

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What It Does: Provides multi-purpose security technology.

Stock: Up 156% over past 12 months.

One of TheStreet's breakout stocks, emerging security player Fortinet recently hit a new 52-week high.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based firm pushes its FortiGate appliance as a Swiss Army knife for network security: it combines firewall, anti-virus, VPN and intrusion prevention systems.

Touted as an attractive acquisition target for IBM (IBM) and HP (HPQ), Fortinet was one of the first firms to offer an all-in-one approach to network security.

Dubbed Unified Threat Management (UTM), Fortinet's corner of the security market is gaining momentum, according to the analyst firm ABI Research. The worldwide market for UTM appliances experienced good growth in 2010, it said, as companies attempted to consolidate their security infrastructure.

Fortinet clinched second place -- ahead of Cisco -- in ABI's recent Vendor Matrix, a survey that measured tech companies against the scope of their UTM offerings, product innovation and their ability to target and serve specific markets. (Juniper took the first spot.)

" Fortinet has been a disruptive force in the market with a wide range of products that cater to multiple customer segments," said Dan Shey, practice director at ABI Research, in a statement.

Cisco has seen its share of the network security market decline in recent years while Fortinet remains one of the key gainers.

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