We all have come to take our simple household appliances for granted. Pick up the phone, make a call; put a slice of bread in the toaster, get toast; turn on the TV, veg out.
Appliances in the computing world are another matter altogether. The NC—Network Computer—and other computing "appliances" have been pushed at us for years but have never caught on. And Ill resist to the death any attempt to Internet-enable my refrigerator.
But theres one area where appliances make sense and are catching on: security. Ironically, security is an area you may not want to trust to an appliance. But considering the number of pieces in the enterprise security puzzle and the time required to manage it all, the more dedicated a device is makes sense.
Two such appliances recently fell onto my radar screen. The first came from an unlikely source. Nokia, most well-known for its cell phones, is a leading OEM of the popular Check Point Software Technologies FireWall-1 firewall and virtual private network software, as well as Internet Security Systems RealSecure intrustion detection systems (IDSes). Nokia has built appliances around the solutions that not only accelerate the software but also promise to save IT managers the hassle of setting up and maintaining the security software, and ISS X-Press technology enables updates to be fed to the IDS box automatically.
The other, from startup Ingrian Systems, has taken SSL encryption to the next level with its Content Security Appliance, which helps maintain SSL transactions as they pass through load balancing, content and caching switches. A new model, the i100, can handle 550 transactions per second and has been slashed to less than $10,000. A Transparent Encryption Module enables data to stay encrypted from source to target.
There are plenty of other "black box" security appliances out there, and now is the time to take a look at them if you havent. They wont solve all your security needs, but they will help you manage them more efficiently.