Betting on Open Source

 
 
By Anne Chen  |  Posted 2003-12-15 Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

As a developer of Internet-based wagering systems and networked solutions for gaming machines, eBet Ltd. is used to gambling. So it should come as no surprise that when the company needed an affordable integrated security solution, it placed its bets on o

As a developer of Internet-based wagering systems and networked solutions for gaming machines, eBet Ltd. is used to gambling. So it should come as no surprise that when the company needed an affordable integrated security solution, it placed its bets on open source. Micah Lloyd, eBets systems administrator, is looking to open source to secure his network while helping him cut costs and avoid vendor lock-in. The Linux-based integrated security solution he deployed cost one-third of what a proprietary solution would have cost, said Lloyd, in Carlsbad, Calif.

"Going with an open-source solution enabled me to bypass having to change hardware and pay licensing fees that were much more than I wanted to spend," Lloyd said. "The savings were substantial enough for us to go with a product based on open source."

Continually updated and improved by developers, open-source security solutions are becoming increasingly common in enterprises.

Organizations with smaller office sites, such as eBet, benefit from an integrated security solution because such systems ease ongoing security management and reduce network complexity. While the drawback is a single point of failure, the ability to run open-source software on commodity hardware means IT managers such as Lloyd can easily have cold standby systems ready to replace any firewall that has gone down.

See eWEEK Labs analysis of all-in-one security appliances.

eBet, based in Sydney, Australia, develops and operates Internet systems for some of the largest licensed gaming operators in the world. Through its U.S.-based subsidiary, eBet Inc., the company also handles online horse wagering for racetracks including Penn National Race Course, in Grantville, Pa.

With five locations worldwide, eBet relies on VPN technology to connect its offices. Lloyd said that he knew last year it was time to upgrade a Check Point VPN-1 Encryption/Firewall Module 4.0 from Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. when its 40-bit encryption technology no longer worked with newer schemes.

Although Lloyd liked the Check Point solution, eBets technology was so outdated that a VPN upgrade would have also meant upgrading hardware. While part of his upgrade plans included standardizing on a hardware vendor, Check Points licensing fees made it too costly to do both, he said.

With hardware from Sun Microsystems Inc. at one location and Nokia Inc. appliances at another, Lloyd decided it was more important to spend the money on consistent hardware and software. The company also had no backup solution and no redundancy in its firewall, two problems he needed to tackle.

And with the technology group based in Carlsbad and company executives in Sydney, Lloyd wanted a solution that people at remote locations could easily modify.

Lloyd finally tested and chose to deploy Astaro AGs Astaro Security Linux, an integrated security product that comes preconfigured and is priced starting at $400. Astaro Security Linux includes firewalling via stateful packet inspection filters, VPN support, virus protection, content filtering and quality-of-service capabilities, among other features. The VPN/firewall solution went live at eBet earlier this year.

A commercial product that uses open source code is typically low in cost, but not at the expense of support. And because Astaro Security Linux is software-based, Lloyd was able to install it on standard hardware.

Lloyd said he had considered modifying the products source code to run the open-source Snort network intrusion detection system on the same server on which Astaro was installed, but he decided against it.

While some security managers may question the security of open-source products—mostly because the code is also out there for any hacker to see—Lloyd said hes no more concerned than he would be if he were running a proprietary solution. On the open-source plus side, a large community of programmers continually troubleshoots issues and adds new functionality to the product, he said.

Discuss This in the eWEEK Forum Senior Writer Anne Chen can be reached at anne_chen@ziffdavis.com.

 
 
 
 
As a senior writer for eWEEK Labs, Anne writes articles pertaining to IT professionals and the best practices for technology implementation. Anne covers the deployment issues and the business drivers related to technologies including databases, wireless, security and network operating systems. Anne joined eWeek in 1999 as a writer for eWeek's eBiz Strategies section before moving over to Labs in 2001. Prior to eWeek, she covered business and technology at the San Jose Mercury News and at the Contra Costa Times.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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