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Birmingham-Southern Upgrades SonicWall Firewall To Accommodate Growth

Birmingham-Southern College in Birmingham, AL has deployed a firewall from SonicWall to protect its campus network. The network consists of about 1,000 college-owned Windows-based systems and 200 network laser printers, serving faculty, administration, and multiple academic labs.

"It has to be easy and it has to work all the time or I just couldn't do my job," said Jesse McKneely, director of infrastructure and project management. McKneely decided to upgrade to the Network Security Appliance (NSA) E7500 firewall after his previous SonicWall PRO 5060 firewall began running at 40 percent of its intended capacity.

The NSA E7500, a 1U appliance, runs deep packet inspection on a 16-core architecture. "I don't think I've activated half the available processors," said McKneely. "The E7500 gives me the tools I need to set up very specific rules for, say, blocking access to troublesome URLs. I would have trouble doing that with other firewalls."

Budgetary considerations also drove McKneely's choice of firewall. "I've looked into other solutions with similar functionality such as Cisco, and they are all far more expensive," he said. "SonicWall gives me the performance I need with more money left in my budget."

Fiber optic ports on the NSA E7500 allowed the director to relocate the firewall to support his server redundancy initiative. "It saved us at least $10,000, not to mention a whole lot of my time," he reported. "The beauty of it was that I was able to take the money I saved and apply it to a new core switch for my servers."

Also, said McKneely, "The Layer 2 Bridge functionality in the NSA E7500 gave us the ability to protect us from ourselves." He now passes third-party-managed student residence network traffic through the firewall, to stop internal threats or malware.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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