UTMs Can Simplify Security Systems Management And Cut Costs
Ian Kilpatrick, chairman of Wick Hill Group, looks at how UTMs help with security systems management and advises on choosing a UTM appliance.
- UTMs becoming much more popular. They reduce costs and simplify security management
- UTM definition
- Used mainly by SMEs. Also now by larger organisations
- UTMs pros and cons
- UTMs provide easier hardware and software management
- What to look for when buying UTMs.
Unified threat management systems (UTMs) have been growing in popularity for the last few years. This is largely because they provide an excellent means of reducing security costs and simplifying the whole process of security systems management and installation. UTM growth is predicted by many analysts to significantly exceed that of firewalls and individual point security solutions over the next few years.
The minimum requirement for a UTM, according to IDC, is a firewall, VPN, antivirus and intrusion detection/prevention. UTMs have, however, evolved from this to incorporate additional capabilities, which can include URL filtering, spam blocking and spyware protection, as well as centralised management, monitoring, and logging capabilities.
While the widest deployment of UTMs has been in SMEs, larger organisations are also using them, as they increasingly appreciate the benefits of less expenditure and easier centralised administration. Large organisations are typically using UTMs to centrally secure branch and remote offices; or alongside their existing gateway firewall, for the additional UTM functionality.
Cost is a key factor behind the growth of UTMs, with some appliances costing less than a quarter of the price of equivalent point solutions. UTMs' significant cost savings come from simplified and reduced installation, as well as fewer ongoing management costs such as training, maintenance and upgrades. And of course, UTMs have only one dedicated platform to support.
UTMs also provide some major benefits in relation to software and hardware management. A single dedicated appliance is a significant reduction in asset inventory, and of course removes the licence tracking and reporting issues of point solutions installed on servers.
Larger organisations using point solutions are often unable to scale the solutions to the number of sites they have, because of cost, installation, management and ongoing support issues. This can lead to organisations deploying reduced security and inferior policies at remote locations. UTMs can enable them to overcome these problems.
A stated disadvantage of UTMs is that they have a single point of failure with all security systems potentially down at the same time. This is typically dealt with by using high availability.
There is no legal definition of a UTM and there are significant variations between UTM appliances. The variations are on price, functionality, performance, scalability and most importantly security.
Key factors to consider when buying a UTM are future proofing and performance issues. With some UTMs, you can start off with just the security solutions you need and add extra functionality as required, which is a good option. You should also look for a solution which allows you to easily upgrade performance.
Beware of vendor performance statistics. Many UTMs aren't designed for all the functions to work together, so performance can fall off rapidly when all functions are switched on. This is often not apparent in the statistics, which may give performance details with most of the functions switched off!
Finally, make sure you choose a UTM which has deep packet inspection firewall, as a minimum, not just stateful inspection, which doesn't provide adequate security.
Read the 7 Tips for selection of a UTM
Ian Kilpatrick, the author, is chairman of Wick Hill Group plc, specialists in secure infrastructure solutions for ebusiness. Kilpatrick has been involved with the Group for over 30 years and is the moving force behind its dynamic growth. Wick Hill is an international organisation supplying most of the Times Top 1000 companies through a network of accredited resellers.
Kilpatrick has an in-depth experience of computing with a strong vision of the future in IT. He looks at computing from a business point-of-view and his approach reflects his philosophy that business benefits and ease-of-use are key factors in IT. He has had numerous articles published in the UK and oveseas press, as well as being a regular speaker at IT exhibitions.
CRN 2008 channel awards winnder of '
Channel Personality of the Year', he is never afraid to voice his opinions on all aspects of the industry and on IT security issues in particular. He has an in-depth experience of computing with an excellent understanding of the industry from the vendor, distributor, reseller and end user point-of-view.
He has a strong vision of the future in IT and IT security. His approach reflects his philosophy that business benefits and ease-of-use are key to successful infrastructure deployment.
Please contact Wick Hill on +44 (0)1483 227600, web www.wickhill.com.