It's been nearly two decades since the security pundits declared the death of the firewall, and yet the technology still lives on. Like tape storage and mainframes, firewalls are just the type of technology that continues to not only survive, but thrive in the IT ecosystem, due to their established role in the network. And a new survey out by firewall management firm Firemon offers some compelling evidence that firewalls will continue to be integral to IT security strategies for many years to come.
Sign 1: More Critical Than Ever
Firewalls still remain a crucial element within network security regimes. According to the Firemon survey, conducted among 700 IT security practitioners, only a scant 4 percent of organizations reported that firewalls are less critical than in years past or not critical at all. Meanwhile, 58 percent of organizations said that firewalls are as critical as they've always been. And 37 percent reported that they're actually more critical now than they've ever been.
Sign 2: Firewall Management Rears Its Head
One of the biggest signs that firewalls are about as entrenched as it gets is the overwhelming complexity of firewall rules and policies. The bigger and more established the infrastructure, the more complicated management tends to be. And according to 52 percent of respondents, firewall complexity is the biggest concern that IT practitioners have today about their firewalls by a long shot. The next biggest is gaps in firewall enforcement, and that only garnered 14 percent of the vote.
Sign 3: Next-Gen Firewall Future-Proofing
Meanwhile, organizations aren't necessarily staying completely staid with their firewall implementations. According to the survey, next-generation firewalls are an increasing presence within enterprise firewall infrastructure. Nearly half—48 percent—of organizations state that NGFW make up at least 25 percent of their overall firewall infrastructure.
Sign 4: Firewalls And Virtualization
As organizations have shifted to virtualized and cloud environments, firewalls continued to play a role in maintaining access controls in this infrastructure, according to nearly 90 percent of respondents. According to the survey, 40 percent of organizations reported that firewalls and next-generation firewalls play a high-value role in the virtualization environment.
Sign 5: Firewalls Will Stick Through SDN Shift
Most IT professionals are realistic about how they see firewalls evolving under the shift to software-defined networking. Just 4 percent of IT pros believe that SDN platforms will eliminate the need for a stand-alone firewall. Approximately 43 percent of security pros say that firewall technology will adapt to the new network model of SDN and continue to play an important role in securing the network. Meanwhile, an additional 11 percent are skeptical about SDN, stating that it is a buzz-word technology that will have little impact on the role of the firewall.