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The Performance Penalties of Bloatware-Based Next-Gen Firewalls
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MichaelFey
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MichaelFey,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/4/2014 | 6:37:34 PM
Re: Smaller Footprint, Bigger Thinking

There are two concepts here – one is core product design, another is deployment optimization. Bloatware is traditionally used to mean OS and applications that grow fatter and more sluggish with each FCS. As part of bloatware deployment, optimization can be a useful tool for tailoring a product to the specific policies, traffic patterns, and risk posture of your organization and network topology. However, it is also often a crutch used to work around poor designs, finessing features and options into the optimal set of tradeoffs. Yet they are still tradeoffs -- something is lost.

Instead, we think you have the right to buy a product that works efficiently out of the box, without heavy optimization. If you have the time, budget, and desire to optimize, you can still choose to do so, but I prefer to see products that perform well at the default settings – with all the features you've invested in turned on.

RetiredUser
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RetiredUser,
User Rank: Ninja
10/31/2014 | 12:59:35 PM
Smaller Footprint, Bigger Thinking
When I first walked into a past project - create a new OS template VM for all future SLES VM rollouts - I knew I was going to take the existing installation footprint and cut it down from almost 10 GB to roughly 1 GB.  When a second template came up for our virtual firewall "appliances" I took that 1 GB and made it 600 MB.  My point is, from strictly a size factor, I understood how to review from a configuration/release management perspective all the applications and libraries contained in the VM and whittle the package down to only the most essential packages.

Now, in terms of performance, it's a similar thing.  You identify exactly what you need in your firewall, what you can replace with intermittant services rather than persistant, and also what can be replaced with pure staff power; re-design and roll out with only what you need; the understanding being that you do not turn anything off later without replacing it with another form of that service, or a modified version.  But also, performance can be affected by the software itself - not all algorithms are equal and before buying deep analytics that are going to sit on your network, you should understand the code and whether there are better options out there; even bringing an in-house team to write the code so the footprint is small and the drag on performance is as minimal as possible may be worth the money in the long run.

Trim all the digital fat, and make sure only the best designed code is in place.

P.S.  I suspect that of those admins interviewed, many of them didn't fully understand the options available in their software.  Even bloatware can often be configurable to minimize features and for performance fine-tuning.  Know your apps backward and forward, spend time with the application tech support to identify areas for improvement, and if that isn't working - buy another product.

 


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