Energy provider sheds light on threats with UTM platform

Old system wouldn't operate without the use of costly consultants

Renewable energy provider Pacific Hydro has replaced its clunky security platform with a Unified Threat Management (UTM) device, deployed across six international sites.

The company has more than 1,800 megawatts of hydroelectric and wind farm projects at varying stages of development, construction and operation across Australia, the Asia-Pacific, and America.

Pacific Hydro global IT manager, Daniel Hayward, said the previous solution was ditched for a UTM suite because usability problems were disrupting the company's six IT staff and it lacked added security features.

"Our previous solution was one of the leading brand names in network security but it required us to employ consultants for even the simplest of modifications [which] incurred substantial additional cost and resulted in time delays even for urgent requests," Hayward said.

"The user interface was written in a language that we could not program in, and we were wasting a lot of money on consultants to maintain the firewall.

"We couldn't make changes as quick as we would like to and the features were very very simple and were not to the standards that we now require."

According to Hayward the solution is responsible for protecting "infrastructure involving multiple sites across a number of continents and hundreds of millions of dollars worth of assets".

"We also wanted a GUI (Graphical User Interface) that would allow us to take on responsibility for management and development of the system," he said.

The company replaced the previous enterprise-wide solution and began installing WatchGuard Firebox Edge devices to remote sites and deployed the larger WatchGuard Firebox X750e Core Series at its Melbourne head office.

A remote network evaluation of the Firebox Edge X10es was conducted in the company's new United States office, following internal reviews of security products from previous vendors including SonicWall.

Hayward said the company has salvaged about $1000 a month in consulting and deployment fees, and did not experience downtime from the cut-over period.

"Every time the company puts on a new site we can [manage the security] ourselves [and] we can tweak and tune the devices to our own requirements," he added.

Hayward turned to the opinions of industry colleagues and case studies to distinguish between the final product selection.

"We looked at case studies and spoke to people to find out their preferences and their pros and cons with previous solutions," he said.

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