What Cost An Enterprise Firewall?

Networking products and services typically have three stages in life – technology, commodity and freebie. Then a slow, lingering death.

In the case of the firewall, the “personal” edition has been – or perceived as being – free for some time, built into the desktop OS or available as a free download from many suppliers, or “thrown in” as part of an AV service, for example. But it hasn’t really been offered as a freebie at “Enterprise” level by any of the established security appliance vendors – until now that is.

German-based, born and bred Astaro may not be a familiary name to many in the UK, but this well-establised purveyor of UTM appliances and variations thereof is a big name in its own country and other territories. And it has taken the step that others have shied away from to date, and is now offering a free Enterprise level firewall – what it is calling the “Essential Firewall” version of its ASG product.

This is available worldwide and includes the following “essentials”:

  • Networking: Internet Router, Bridging, DNS server & proxy, DynDNS, DHCP server & relay, NTP support, automatic QoS
  • Network Security: Stateful Packet Inspection Firewall & Network Address translation (DNAT/SNAT/Masquerading)
  • Remote Access: PPTP and L2TP over IPSec support (including iPhone support)
  • Logging/Reporting: Full logging on local hard drive, searching, real-time reports for hardware, network usage and network security, daily executive reports
  • Management: Web-based GUI in local languages, setup wizard, configuration backup & restore, administrator notifications, SNMP support, centralized management via Astaro Command Center (also free of charge)

We’re hoping not only to find the time to get our hands on this product, but also a number of other planned new products from Astaro in the new year. It will be interesting to see what effect this has on the security appliance market in general, as well as what the likes of IDG and Gartner in the Analyst world make of this move.

It also begs the question: what will become free next? I think the answer is, if you have a few spare PCs/Servers running Linux, then almost everything…

What saves the world from becoming one giant freeware state is that a) many people still are prepared to spend £, $ or € to obtain some “tin” for reassurance and b) they want a product that is properly supported and, again, are prepared to part with some form of currency denomination in order for this to happen. However, in the same way that we all know that bartering – exchange of services and products – takes place in the world at large, so it can be that, at a Linux community level, what has been going on for a few years now at a semi-underground level could become more acceptable mainstream.

Best start entering the lottery…

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