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Matasano Unwraps Its 'Firewall Mixer'

New control and change management tool for big, multivendor firewall deployments

Consulting and research firm Matasano Security officially rolled out its first security product this week -- a next-generation firewall management tool that centralizes the control and change management of multiple vendors’ firewalls.

Playbook, originally nicknamed Clockwork, is a VMWare-based virtual "appliance" that gathers and manages firewall rules and revisions via a Web interface, and lets enterprises make changes to multiple firewalls simultaneously, rather than individually. Matasano founder Thomas Ptacek described it as “firewall mixer” last year when the tool first went into beta. (See Matasano Preps 'Firewall Mixer'.)

So why a management product for the old standby firewall? “Firewalls are underrated, but only by an industry which is perpetually looking at selling you the next new thing. When we talk with customers we find that the problems they deal with every day are not about the next threat that just came out, but about managing and refining their existing processes,” says Max Caceres, director of R&D with Matasano. “Firewall adoption is huge, and what most companies struggle with is with managing their rules and making sure they get the most out of their existing deployment.”

Caceres says Playbook, which is based on Linux, lets you search for firewall rules by service, IP address, network block, and other specific parameters. “The change history can also be searched, so engineers can ask ‘what are all the recent changes affecting port 5900?’ and get an almost instant answer.”

The software also provides detailed information on firewall changes, as well as a dashboard feature. Caceres says the closest rival to Playbook is probably ExaProtect’s Solsoft ChangeManager. Playbook pricing starts at $1,995.

Matasano’s new foray into the vendor realm does not mean it's abandoning its consulting and research roots, however. “The company's services arm is very successful and has a fantastic reputation, so you'll see as growing that as well,” Caceres says.

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