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What do you think about all-in-one security devices?

What do you think about all-in-one security devices?

I'm an IT Director at large Media firm in NY. Looking at the security overhaul in the recent months and business looking to consolidate the offices environment the talk of the town is to have ALL IN One device which does Firewall, IDS, VPN etc. I thought a layered security approach was the way to go but it seems some security groups have different ideas about the implementation. What are your thoughts about the products like Cisco ASA and Fortinet device and new Juniper SSG 500?

This question is bound to stir up some debate so let's look at the pros and cons of such devices. I think part of the hesitation security professionals have with such devices is the fear that a multifunction device may be good at most tasks but master of none. Just look at technologies like the iPod. Apple designed this techno-gadget to do just one thing but it does it well. The result is that they have been rewarded with impressive sales and market share. Another concern is that many security professional truly like the idea of having independent individual security devices, after all this easily demonstrates the concept of defense in depth. Finally, there is the fact that buying different security devices allows an organization to pursue a best of breed strategy that focuses on each company's specific security needs.

Does this mean there isn't a place for all in one devices, off course not. No two organizations are the same. Let's face it, for companies on a limited budget or those that seek to do one stop shopping the Cisco ASA, Fortinet unit, and the Juniper SSG 500 fulfill that role. These devices have matured and are better integrated than in the past. This is a growing segment. Even SOHO manufacturers like D-link have gotten into this market. Look for more companies to see this as a viable option. While it's debatable that it's the best option it is better than no security at all or a mismanaged multidevice environment.

This was last published in March 2006

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