As the threat landscape changes and networking tools become more complex, the requirements for enterprise firewalls are also changing. Evaluating enterprise firewalls demands careful attention to a variety of considerations:
Performance: It’s important to not just take the provider’s word for it when it comes to performance stats. Even testing can be deceiving because firewalls generally perform well in light traffic. Instead, you need to test the firewall performance at scale — with encryption turned on. Approximately 80% of traffic is encrypted, and you need to see if performance levels hold when encryption is turned on.
You should also examine how performance is impacted with all major functions turned on, including user and application identification, anti-malware, and URL filtering and logging. In many cases, the firewall performance numbers that providers offer are achieved with features turned off. Enterprises often choose firewall solutions based on certain features, but then find that they can’t meet performance requirements when they use those features.
Before committing to a particular provider, run as many tests with different types of traffic as possible.
Security Strategy: When choosing enterprise firewalls, there are often two routes enterprises take: 1) enterprise firewalls provided by the existing security solution, or 2) a best-of-breed strategy. The best-of-breed may give you the impression that it’s bolstering your overall security strategy, but working with multiple providers can create an overly complex security plan. You may have unidentified gaps or struggle to coordinate the level of security you need across all of your providers.
Form Factors: Enterprise firewalls used to be a centralized element of the IT environment, housed at the data center. But now that networks have a more open infrastructure, enterprises need consistency across the solution. Providers need to offer the following form factors: internet edge, data centers, mid-size and small branch offices, virtual machine, and cloud-delivered. In addition, most providers won’t have a containerized form factor, but they should have a plan for integration in the future.
Centralized Management: The providers you’re considering may talk a lot about their extensive product line, but this may be meaningless to you if they don’t also offer a centralized management dashboard. It’s important that you’re able to make a change to enterprise firewalls and then push it out across the network.
Automation: While it’s natural to think of automation in terms of reducing the personnel cost for network management, it may be more important in terms of predicting behaviors compared to a baseline and executing protection measures more quickly. Look for automation functions in areas such as workflow, policy, identification, and enforcement.
If you’re shopping for enterprise firewalls, contact us at Truth Comm. We can remove some of the complexity of the process, simply by helping you leverage the right solution for your performance and security requirements.