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Network Hardware Firewalls Buyers Guide

Installation and Deployment


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Deploying and installing a firewall is usually done once and then left alone. However if you are to do this yourself then you need to be sure it will support your environment and that you are able to install the firewall without too many complications.

You need to consider how the firewall will be deployed. Do you require the firewall to be deployed inline with your network? Do you require the firewall to integrate with your current VLAN setup?

You may be using the firewall as a second layer of defence or for a specific role. For example you may require it to protect only your DMZ or you may be using it as a Web Proxy, if so then you need to know if this is supported. For these type of deployments you may need your firewall to support transparent mode/bride mode so that you can deploy the firewall without having to change any IP addressing on your network.


Does the package come complete with easy to follow steps when installing and deploying the firewall?

You should make a note of installation guides and also online installation and deployment help guides. Take a look at vendor written documentation and the steps required to fully implement and deploy the firewall.

Take a look at deployment options as well. Can the firewall be deployed using various deployment options? Examples of deployment options are to deploy in transparent mode, route mode, using NAT, centralized deployment, etc.


What platforms does the firewall support? Can you buy it as a software package for Windows or Linux servers? Can you buy it in a virtual appliance or as a physical appliance?

With software firewalls you may need to spend some of your own time hardening the OS it is installed upon as well as setting up the server and OS itself. The positive side to software firewalls is you can choose your own hardware and could possibly be a cheaper option.

Hardware firewall appliances come with a dedicated hardened OS (generally more secure) already pre configured and quicker to install.

Also take note of how many steps are required before the firewall is fully configured. Do you need to adjust every part of the functionality or does the firewall come with a default policy generally suited for the majority of networks.

Some vendors give you the option to pick out the level of security you require. For example strict control may block everything but web access, where less strict policies will give your company the ability to browse the web, download files using FTP as well as other privileges.


Does the firewall provide easy to follow built in wizards guiding you through the install?

Wizards are extremely helpful and can simplify the deployment process. However you also would want the flexibility to configure your firewall manually as well. Wizard will help you set up the firewall in stages such as setting up IP addresses for WAN and LAN interfaces, DNS and DHCP, licence details, Locale, time and date, usernames and passwords and other essential start up settings.


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For further reading, there's some excellent electronic ebooks available for download from eBooks.com