Appliances are the dominant approach for implementing network security services, but not all network security appliances are created equal. This is primarily because appliances provide greater ease of use and lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) benefits compared to software solutions deployed on standard Intel-based application servers. Common, baseline features that support these benefits include a pre-hardened Operating System (OS) and the ability to receive consolidated software upgrades.
However, not all network security appliances are created equal. A true appliance is more than a modified operating system running on a server. Compelling TCO benefits are only achieved from solutions that incorporate a foundation of sustainable reliability.
The essential requirements for such a foundation include an appliance architecture that combines:
- Best-of-breed application software.
- Proven networking services.
- Network-centric configuration, administration, and management.
- Network-specific, purpose-built hardware.
This architecture must be supported by the comprehensive quality assurance and technical support programs that only rigorously controlled hardware and software configurations can enable.