What Is a Data Center Firewall?

Updated on Jun 1, 2022 by

A data center firewall is a software or hardware device that is used by data centers for maximizing security. It is a 5-tuple network layer that serves as a multitenant software-designed networking (SDN) device. The purpose of a firewall is to monitor the traffic entering and exiting an organization’s network. In the industry jargon, this network is called a perimeter. For fragmented network perimeter, the firewall can work at subsequently smaller levels down to the workload level, filtering out external threats.


Why Deploy a Data Center Firewall?

The data center has evolved over the years as a critical solution for many businesses and enterprises despite the active availability of cloud-based resources. Knowing the stake that they carry by hosting mission-critical applications and essential business operations, data centers have become much more sophisticated in both their design and geographic location.

However, their design evolution and geographic dispersion do not make them impervious to external threats. The surge in cyber-crimes and unauthorized access has pushed the IT staff to introduce solutions such as the firewall that can repel these threats and secure data that demands exclusive access. The global network security firewall market is estimated to be USD 4.37 Bn in 2021 and is expected to reach USD 8.6 Bn by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 14.9%.

The primary tenet of a data center firewall is the physical and digital systems whose job is to protect the data and application from malicious intents. These digital and physical systems combine the networks, storage, and computing power providing data center operators and clients with remote access to mission-critical applications.

The data center firewall is designed to detect an intrusive attack and push away unwanted traffic from their networks as well as public networks such as the website. With the firewall, you can continue to protect your location despite your network being hacked.importance of data center firewalls


How Does a Data Center Firewall Work?

Data center administrators install and configure the firewall by creating access control lists (ACLs) which are applied to a network interface or a subnet. They implement the firewall policies at the switch port of each tenant VM (virtual machine), and the Network Controller pushes these through the portal for distribution amongst all applicable hosts. This way, tenant administrators can enable and configure the firewall to divert unwanted traffic from internet and intranet networks securing their own.

The firewall can control the traffic flow in multiple ways depending on their designs. Legacy architectures typically offer static packet filtering, stateful inspection, and proxy services. Modern-day firewalls have supplemented the architecture with advanced threat analysis, intrusion detection (IDS/IPS), and application context. These modern analytics make it much easier to evaluate the content of incoming traffic.data center firewall


Data Center Firewall Types

Data center firewalls can be of two types: distributed or perimeter-based.

Traditionally, data centers have used the perimeter firewall as a security layer (or a virtual defensive wall) to protect their internal assets from malicious actors within the north-south traffic flow.

Once the distributed networks came into vogue, along with other modern applications, the increasing penetrability of the network perimeter necessitated minute monitoring. This resulted in the introduction of a more refined distributed firewall that could monitor and protect the internal (east-west) traffic.

In either case, their job is to continue monitoring traffic flows across a designated network area. They identify and block any suspicious activity along with alerting the security team of the possible threat. Distributed firewalls protect the workload level by filtering the east-west traffic. By deploying the firewall, the data centers can protect the east-west and north-south traffic flows sweeping across a layer of virtual and traditional VLAN networks.


Benefits of a Data Center Firewall

A reliable and robust firewall design takes the best of the distributed and perimeter firewalls to deliver top-notch protection across the north-south and east-west traffic. Below is a quick overview of the kinds of benefits that service providers and tenants enjoy by installing a firewall.

Advantages for Cloud Service Providers

Here’s a quick breakdown of how data center firewalls exclusively benefit the service providers.

  • A firewall is highly affordable, diagnosable, and scalable.

  • The solution allows providers to move tenant VMs to different hosts without compromising the exclusive firewall policies; tenant VMs can configure their policies; the rules are configured separately for each switch port independent of the VM host.

  • Mandatory tenant protection regardless of the guest operating system.

Advantages for Tenants

Data center tenants can enjoy the following benefits with a firewall;

  • Tenants can define their specific firewall rules; this helps them protect internet-facing and internal workloads. It is also possible to apply firewall policies to traditional VLAN and overlay-based networks.

  • The ability to dictate the firewall rules also enables the tenants to protect traffic between VMs on the same layer 2 subnet as well as different subnets.

  • You can also define rules to protect traffic between on-premises networks of the tenants as well as virtual networks provided by the servicer.

  • Firewalls also allow you to manage bandwidth allocations.

Data center firewalls can optimize operational efficiency for service providers and clients in different ways, but there are also several common benefits that all stakeholders can enjoy.

For example, whether you are a service provider or a client, you can enjoy a comprehensive security mechanism that ensures exclusive access and protection from threats. You can enjoy the consistent performance of apps and data along with an uninterrupted supply of services and products for the benefit of customers and employees. Finally, data center firewalls enable the modern and distributed workforce to serve without the problem of downtime and damage from successful attacks.

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