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Astaro Offers VMware Users a Free Firewall

Virtual security player Astaro’s low profile doesn’t seem to have done it much harm

Astaro Corporation, a 150-man German network security vendor started by a college dropout infected with the viral get-rich-quick fever that was pandemic at the turn of the century, is going to give away an open source-based business firewall for VMware.

The object of the game is to get noticed in an increasing crowded market although Astaro’s low profile doesn’t seem to have done it much harm. VCs have stuffed $12 million in its jeans and it’s reportedly been profitable for the last three years. It says the recession hasn’t hurt.

Anyway, Astaro, which scooped up various open source projects and turned them into software, hardware and virtual appliances – giving it more breath than most people have – means to exploit a hole in VMware’s product line.

VMware only offers its vShield Zones virtual security widgetry with its higher-end vSphere SKUs, leaving users of its ESXi-only, Essentials, Essential Plus and Standard editions, often too bigger and oversized for a lot of people, unprotected.

Astaro means to duck down that hole, expecting that exposure to its firewall will persuade users to trade up to its intrusion detection, spam filtering and web filtering, which can be added to the configuration at any time and are instantly activated after inserting a new license key.

Its free VMware firewall is targeted mostly at SMBs but Astaro has reportedly been attracting big companies with rights to vShield but unwilling to put all their eggs in VMware’s basket; Astaro’s security is supposed to be deeper than VMware’s anyway.

According to Astaro CEO Jan Hichert VMware merely protects the VMware server, while Astaro protects the whole network, adding enterprise security functions to all vSphere editions and providing control over all communications between the virtual machines in an organization’s network.

Astaro’s main competitors are Cisco and Check Point Software. Astaro says its more functional widgetry costs a third of these proprietary vendors.

The free firewall secures a network from external threats as well as controls and monitors communications between virtual machines. Astaro also provides a free tool called the Astaro Command Center for centrally managing multiple Astaro products.

Astaro’s Free Business Firewall for VMware is a base license of its Security Gateway Virtual Appliance and has the same GUI as its other security products. Users get firmware and feature upgrades at no cost.

Astaro claims 50,000 installations over 100,000 networks and a worldwide network of more than 2,500 resellers.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at) or paperboy(at), and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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