UTMs Consolidate Security -- And Turn It Green

Carl Weinschenk

Security is a confusing topic because so many devices and systems seem, to non-experts, to perform similar and highly interrelated tasks. Some simplification is occurring as approaches are combined in omnibus platforms such as unified threat management (UTM).


UTM is being floated as being an improvement for a reason beyond simplification, according to Ian Kilpatrick, chairman of the Wick Hill Group. He says the sinking of several formerly disparate pieces of security into a single chassis is an important step in the greening if IT.


In general, organizations are looking for gear -- including security -- designed with green principals in mind. UTM is a particularly promising area: The story says the minimum definition of UTM includes a firewall, a virtual private network, anti-virus software and intrusion detection/prevention gear. Sinking all this functionality into one chassis drastically cuts power requirements. Not only are four or five devices squeezed into one, but the need for ancillary systems, such as air conditioning and backup, also is cut.


This CIOL pieces takes the idea a step further. It verifies that UTM is a step toward green security for the same reasons enumerated by Kilpatrick. The writer says virtualization is another path toward creation of robust security with less hardware and its attendant overhead. The final piece of the puzzle is to combine the two ideas. Virtualized UTMs are gaining early adherents. For instance, HEAnet -- the operator of Ireland's research and education network -- is providing "numerous security functions" for more than 800,000 users from just two data center racks.


The green advantages of UTM are compelling, but many other issues are at play when considering whether to use them or multiple best-of-breed devices. This CIO.com piece looks three companies. USEC, a gaseous diffusion plant, was concerned about the single point of failure and opted for the diversified approach. The Paradigm Investment Group, which holds 96 Hardees fast food restaurant franchises, deployed Fortinet UTMs. Security firm DriveSavers bought ASA Adaptive Security Appliances from Cisco.


This is a very well-done overview of the advantages of UTM systems. The piece does not address green or energy issues, but focuses on the fact that these devices are becoming less expensive and within the reach of SMBs. Appliances capable of serving eight to 25 people can run for as little as $400, while fully featured devices can run less than $1,000. The piece runs through what is considered baseline and advanced UTM functionality. The writer mentions four vendors: SonicWall, Fortinet -- which earlier this month made a significant sale to Harley-Davidson -- SonicWall and Calyptix.

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