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Microsoft Previews Azure Firewall Basic Edition for SMBs

Microsoft on Tuesday announced the release of a Basic edition of the Azure Firewall service, which is available at the preview stage.

Azure Firewall is Microsoft's "stateful firewall as a service," which can be used to log traffic flows and scale as needed. It'll also check for "malicious traffic" using Microsoft Threat Intelligence information. Azure Firewall is integrated with other Azure services, "such as Azure Monitor, Azure Events Hub, Microsoft Sentinel and Microsoft Defender for Cloud."

Basic Edition Preview
The Basic edition preview of Azure Firewall is designed for use by small-to-medium business (SMB) organizations. Microsoft defined the criteria for SMBs to use the Basic edition as having organizational throughput needs of "less than 250 Mbps."

The Azure Firewall Basic edition has Layer 3 to Layer 7 filtering, performance and reliability features, management and policy analytics perks via Firewall Manager, plus enterprise integration capabilities. The Basic edition can integrate with a security information and event management (SIEM) system, for instance.

The Basic edition's key features, per the announcement, include the following:

  • Network and application traffic filtering.
  • Threat intelligence to alert on malicious traffic.
  • Built-in high availability.
  • Seamless integration with other Azure services.

Microsoft also offers the Azure Firewall service in Standard and Premium editions, which are existing products. The Premium edition was commercially released last year.

The Premium edition is for organizations needing to secure "highly sensitive applications (such as payment processing)," with scalability needs of up to 100 Gbps. The Standard edition is for organizations needing automatic scaling for "peak traffic periods of up to 30 Gbps."

The Basic edition lacks the "advanced threat protection capabilities" that are available with the Premium edition, namely threat-intelligence filtering, inbound and outbound TLS termination, a fully managed intrusion detection and prevention system (IDPS), and URL filtering. Such details are illustrated in a table that's available in Microsoft's announcement.

Microsoft, though, contends that the Basic edition of Azure Firewall provides "enterprise-grade protection" for a cloud environment "at an affordable price point."

Price was the reason a lot of SMBs didn't buy Azure Firewall, according to Microsoft Most Valuable Professional Aidan Finn, in this blog post. The Basic edition may attract SMBs, organizations with branch offices and even some larger enterprises, he contented.

Policy Analytics Preview
In other Azure Firewall news, Microsoft last week announced a preview of Policy Analytics for Azure Firewall. It can be found in the Azure Portal console.

Policy Analytics was "developed to help IT teams manage Azure Firewall rules over time," as those rules can become suboptimal. The Policy Analytics preview has the following elements:

  • Firewall flow logs, which lets IT pros "filter flows matching specific sources, destinations, ports and protocols."
  • Rule analytics across "destination network address translation (DNAT), network and application rules."
  • A policy "insight panel," showing Microsoft's policy recommendations.
  • The ability to analyze traffic flows via a "single-rule analysis" capability.

The billing for Policy Analysis during its preview stage follows Microsoft's "policy as described on the Azure Firewall Manager pricing page," the announcement tersely indicated.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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