A software only firewall Stonegate from Finnish company Stonesoft is now available as a combined hardware and software appliance. The product is being combined with hardware from a local provider, Mikrolog.

“We listened to customer responses,” said Nigel Rix, Stonesoft’s regional director for the UK. “There is a preference for an appliance based solution. The company aims its products at the medium to large enterprise; its SG-3000 product has ten ports and dual processors for customers’ corporate headquarters, while smaller boxes (the SG-200, 500 and 1000) are for branch offices. The product also allows clustering for load-balancing and greater reliability – even in the smaller boxes, said Rix.

As befits an enterprise product for distributed networks, the devices come with remote control and management, and software pre-installed: “You can manage a number of firewall policies from the head office,” said Rix. It also has certification to the common criteria security standard and is the only combined load-balancing firewall and VPN product to have this certification, Rix believes. The appliance version does not replace the software-only version, which should be some comfort to mainframe users, according to Rix: “We have the only firewall on IBM’s Z Series mainframes under Linux,” he said. “We have a strategic partnership with IBM for that.”

While other vendors are arguing about the architecture of firewalls, Rix believes that StoneSoft could leapfrog this to some extent. “We were late to the market [the products arrived in 2000], so we were able to engineer the product and fit it for this decade.”