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Enterprise UTM products differ from all-in-one SMB appliances

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The industry has seen a steady shift from standalone technologies like firewalls to unified threat management (UTM) appliances. These devices, which integrate antivirus, antispyware, intrusion prevention and firewall onto a single platform with a common policy engine and centralized alerts and logs, have long appealed to small and midsized businesses short on staff and budget.

But do these all-in-one appliances have a place in the enterprise, where best-of-breed has been the top choice to meet more complex needs? Richard Isenberg, director of security engineering at CheckFree, thinks so.

Operating from 19 locations with 3,500 employees, CheckFree processes 1,500 electronic payment transactions per second for more than 2,000 financial firms worldwide. Replacing a complex architecture of 20 IPS boxes, 26 firewalls, 20 switches and numerous proxies with seven UTM devices cut costs and improved reliability, he says.

Return on CheckFree's UTM investment is substantial: $226,000 per year. "That comes from eliminating licenses and maintenance contracts by reducing the number of boxes," Isenberg says. "We also reduced routine maintenance costs. And now we only have to understand what's happening on seven devices, which speeds issue resolution."

Yet while enterprises can enjoy reduced complexity, lower costs, improved flexibility and even stronger security with UTMs, they may run into pitfalls involving scalability, throughput, integration and

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selective retention of best-of-breed products. To be sure, successful enterprise UTM deployment requires careful planning.

This was first published in March 2007

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