Optical Oracle: Firewalls of the Future

As security threats facing high-speed networks grow by the day, products such as firewalls are under constant demand to become more sophisticated.

But fear not. A new kind of firewall is evolving, according to research in this month’s issue of the Optical Oracle, titled: "3G Firewalls: Is Bigger Better?" Once just a simple "security gateway," firewalls now commonly include features like virtual private networking (VPN), intrusion detection systems (IDSs), and virus scanning. Powered by high-end ASICs or network processors, these firewalls can now handled 100s of Mbit/s of throughput.

These advances may also be leading to an entirely new security architecture for high-speed networks, according to the report, which is part of Light Reading’s paid research service.

While firewalls used to sit at the edge of the network, slowly filtering through all the data coming in and causing huge bottlenecks in the process, the third-generation (3G) firewalls entering the market can allow multi-gigabit throughput. This allows larger networks to consolidated dozens of smaller firewalls into one security checkpoint.

This means that these firewalls aren't just for service providers. One of the major reasons enterprise networks have started making the leap into the next-generation of security product is because they can be used to secure entire Gigabit Ethernet backbones. Previously, the segmentation of different departments within the network overloaded smaller firewalls not equipped to handle this traffic, according to the report.

Moving to a 3G firewall platform not only affords enterprises the opportunity to consolidate the many separate firewalls deployed throughout their networks, but also the means to provide a number of different security functions from the same platform. This can drastically reduce the complexity of a company’s management system.

The report outlines the product strategies and outlooks for the top eight players in this space: Despite the benefits, many enterprises will be reluctant to move to the next generation of security appliances. Service providers, however, should see the 3G firewall platforms as the shining path to the future. With these ultra-high-speed security devices in place, service providers will be able to offer a whole new level of services to their customers. As the report puts it:

“Given the tenuous state of carrier economics these days, value-added services like these are the future of these organizations, and existing security platforms will not meet the throughput and manageability requirements."

— Eugénie Larson, Reporter, Light Reading
www.lightreading.com Editor's Note: Light Reading is not affiliated with Oracle Corporation.

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