Secure Computing offers firewall appliance

Secure Computing on Thursday introduced its first firewall appliance based on Sidewinder 5.2, previously sold only as software that had to be installed on a hardware platform by enterprise customers.

With its combined hardware/software appliance, Secure Computing follows in the wake of several other firewall vendors, including NetSecure Software, Symantec and Check Point Software Technologies, that have made their software-based firewalls available as pre-installed appliances. These appliances are becoming increasingly attractive to buyers due to perceived ease of use.

"Firewalls are typically going to appliances," commented Mike Rasmussen, senior industry analyst at Giga Information Group Inc. As a vendor, "If you don't go to appliances, you won't survive."

The Sidewinder firewall is known for its proprietary secure operating system kernel, but "historically, a lot of Unix knowledge was necessary to maintain it," Rasmussen says. The firewall should be easier to install and maintain now that it's an appliance, he says.

Securing Computing said the Sidewinder appliance can be ordered from Secure Computing or channel partners, but that the appliance will be built by Dell Computer Corp. on the Dell PowerEdge Server. Secure Computing said that although Dell's role is to customize Sidewinder as an appliance, Dell will not take purchase orders directly from customers.

"Dell is pre-installing and customizing the hardware configuration based on the customer's order," said Andrew Stevens, Sidewinder product marketing manager.

The arrangement with Dell will make it easier for Secure Computing to have Sidewinder shipped globally, since Dell factories around the world are participating in the partnership with Secure Computing, Rasmussen says.

Sidewinder is managed via PC-based client software that doesn't require a dedicated console. The appliance costs US$5,900 for a 25-user license.

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