Many enterprises still rely on physical, on-premise firewalls to provide threat protection. Some may have taken the step to outsource the management of these firewalls to a Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP), but the architecture—being hardware—is complex and doesn’t scale. MSSPs operate in fiercely competitive environments and need to be in a position to add new, competitive services while keeping a cap on their operating costs. What if MSSPs could quickly stand up hosted firewall services or adjust existing customer capacity while increasing profitability? There is a way: by automating firewall virtualization through intelligent orchestration.
Normally, hosting firewalls for new customers, or increasing the firewall capacity for existing customers, means buying bigger hardware devices and upgrading them every few years to keep up with increased traffic volume and subscriber needs. It often means adding individual firewall appliances for each new customer. Using valuable engineering resources to spin up and configure a new firewall each time a new customer is onboarded is a costly and time-consuming process. Yes, that used to be the case, but it isn’t when it comes to managed firewall services that leverage virtual firewalls. What’s more, when the service is automated, MSSPs gain even more savings and can offer a leading-edge solution to their customers without worrying about exponential costs.
What is a Hosted Managed Virtual Firewall Service?
When MSSPs offer a hosted managed virtual firewall service (VFS), it removes the struggle with the flexibility of fixed appliances, by placing a virtual firewall upstream on the MSSP’s network gateway. The MSSP manages the firewall so the end customer doesn’t need to constantly worry about having the right expertise for their network security; instead enterprises can use their IT resources for more strategic tasks.
For example, consider a business with nine locations spread wide geographically. If the MSSP offers a hosted managed VFS, having to maintain and service a variety of remote firewall appliances are no longer concerns. It takes a matter of hours to set up a virtual firewall, that is easily right-sized to each location’s needs, and the MSSP has the peace of mind of not having to worry about nine different physical appliances. They also don’t have to worry about replacing equipment when it has reached its end of life.
Why is automation important for a hosted managed virtual firewall service?
MSSPs offering virtual firewalls to their customers brings the scalability, flexibility and simplicity not possible with hardware appliances. But, for this service to be as profitable as possible, the technology needs to:
- Deliver the service to customers whenever, and wherever they want.
- Enable same-day delivery of new firewalls when onboarding new customers to the service.
- Reduce operating costs by transforming the process of adding traffic inspection for a new customer from an engineering to a customer support function.
- Virtualize network security functions with pay-as-you-grow flexibility and portability of investment across all environments.
The element which delivers these functions? Automation. We all know that DIY virtualization can be a huge drain on engineering resources. Why should an MSSP take that engineering headache from their customers only to add it to their own plate? The enterprise may save money by outsourcing, but the MSSP won’t. However, when a virtual firewall service is automated, that’s when MSSPs see the efficiency and ROI they are looking for.
What are the benefits of automated firewall virtualization for the MSSP?
Unlike complicated hardware deployments or DIY virtualization projects, an automated virtualization platform leverages intelligent orchestration to automatically deploy, scale and optimize virtual network firewalls. MSSPs benefit from:
- Lower cost: engineering resources are no longer required to spin up a firewall for a new customer. Now it’s a quick and easy customer support function instead.
- Pay-as-you-grow: MSSPs only pay for what they sell to customers and they can move firewall licenses to wherever they need them.
- Service velocity: MSSPs can quickly create new services without having to deploy new infrastructure.
- Simplified operations: provisioning and management is cloud-like and automatically scales firewall capacity as needed.
- Flexibility: this model makes the firewall solution portable, so MSSPs can deploy virtual firewalls at an on-prem network gateway today and re-deploy it elsewhere tomorrow.
It’s clear that enterprises are looking to offload their firewalls. They don’t want to deal with hardware appliances anymore. Instead, they want a firewall service which is affordable and keeps up with the latest security solutions for better threat protection. MSSPs are uniquely positioned to solve this challenge for enterprise customers.
When MSSPs migrate to a hosted managed VFS, they gain incredible service velocity, agility, and simplicity. They can spin up new firewall services and onboard new customers the same-day without the need for engineering resources. And with a pay-as-you-grow model that optimizes credit-based licensing, MSSPs get flexibility and portability across environments for an even more profitable service.