Making sense of Software and Hardware firewalls

Firewalls: we know why they are there, but given the wide variety of additional software and security packages that are available for sale, as well as the fact that most modern operating systems come with firewall built-in, there’s considerable scope for confusion as to what you actually need.

So the question becomes, do you need a hardware firewall when software ones are so commonplace (and in some cases bundled with the operating system)?

Because we pride ourselves on not cutting corners when it comes to the security of your applications and data information technology, we at Lumison use sophisticated hardware Access Control Lists (ACLs) on all of our hosting products. The difference is in the performance of your server.

Routing and firewalling packets takes up CPU and network resource on any device they touch, which includes servers. By having the firewalling done on a separate hardware device, the server is protected from this processing overhead, leaving it dedicated to the task to which it has been installed for.
These overheads may be more than you think. According to the High Performance Packet Classification (HiPAC) group (who produce a kernel patch for Linux that works around some of the bottlenecks in the standard kernel), having 200 rules on your firewall reduces performance by over 45%.

What does this mean for your business? Apart from the obvious peace of mind of having a dedicated, qualified network administration team looking after your security, it means your servers only see the traffic that they are meant to, are less loaded and can use all their processing power for delivering your websites, databases and applications. You simply define the traffic you do and do not want on your collocation network and let Lumison configure and manage the firewall.

In a nutshell, software firewalls can come at a price of reduced performance or result in many labour hours spent keeping your servers operating efficiently. To find out if this false economy applies to you, contact the Lumison team for a discussion as to your needs.

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