SonicWALL

SonicWALL Achieves 100% ROI in Under 9 Months
Using MySQL Embedded

"We had performed a comprehensive product cost analysis that showed the majority of our development, quality assurance, and documentation cycles and dollars were being spent on supporting Microsoft SQL Server configurations. In addition, we found that one out of every five trouble tickets had been opened against issues dealing with the integration to Microsoft SQL Server."

Greg Naderi, Product Line Manager
SonicWALL

Dell SonicWALL Overview

Dell SonicWALL products provide Unified Threat Management (UTM) solutions, a $2.7 billion market (IDC, 2013) comprised of network security services that operate beyond the firewall gateway, such as e-mail spam filtering, anti-virus, intrusion detection and prevention, as well as traditional firewall activities. Since its inception in 1991, and acquisition by Dell in 2012, SonicWALL has shipped millions of units worldwide primarily to the security-sensitive financial services, retail, and healthcare industries, as well as the government sector. Dell SonicWALL products are best known for their ability to eliminate the cost and complexity of a complete network security solution while also providing the ability to customize and expand the array of security services in a single unit.

Dell SonicWALL Global Management System (GMS) is an all-in-one management tool that provides Reporting, Policy Management and Monitoring from a single console, eliminating the costs associated with buying and integrating separate function-specific modules. Because administration comprises 60% of a security product's total costs on average, Dell SonicWALL's GMS product with its single, integrated view can provide substantial cost savings to users.

The Business Challenge

The SonicWALL GMS product was originally software only, which required that their customers purchase the operating system, hardware and database. This posed two problems:

  1. Creating a hardened management system was cost and time prohibitive for customers; and
  2. The database raised SonicWALL's costs through:
    • Stalled sales orders due to integration difficulties.
    • Additional product development cycles necessary to support the large number of operating systems, hardware and database permutations.
    • Additional QA cycles to test various platforms and database structures.
    • Additional documentation cycles to support multiple installation parameters.
    • All the costs associated with the internal support of a Microsoft SQL Server database.

"We had performed a comprehensive product cost analysis that showed that the majority of our development, quality assurance, and documentation cycles and dollars were being spent on supporting Microsoft SQL Server configurations," said Greg Naderi, SonicWALL's GMS Product Line Manager. "In addition, we found that one out of every five trouble tickets had been opened against issues dealing with the integration to Microsoft SQL Server."

A large number of SonicWALL customers had specifically requested that GMS include a database that would reduce their total license costs and end their ongoing stability problems with Microsoft SQL Server. Lending further argument, many of their security appliance vendors were already including databases with their products.

It was clear to the SonicWALL product team that moving to an appliance-based management platform with an embedded database would provide a more competitive solution by minimizing their cost of goods sold (COGS) and their customers' total cost of ownership (TCO). They also determined they could cut costs internally by rationalizing the five database management systems they were using in-house down to one.

The MySQL Solution

The SonicWALL Policy & Management product team decided to use Hardened Linux operating system, and an open source database for their appliance platform. They evaluated MySQL, PostgreSQL and Firebird. The SonicWALL product team selected MySQL for the following reasons:

  • Performance Because GMS data volumes grow quickly to hundreds of gigabytes or even terabytes of data, it was important that the database could grow in size linearly without any performance degradation. They found that MySQL did this very well while PostgreSQL's lagged significantly.
  • Size The GMS database needed to support not only terabytes of data but also very large numbers rows, columns, and tables. They liked the fact that MySQL imposes no limits on the number of rows, columns or tables.
  • Ease of Installation and Configuration They liked MySQL's GUI tools for administration and tuning and the fact that MySQL has a binary distribution that can be used for installation. PostgreSQL lacked GUI tools and its source code would have to be compiled.
  • Multi-Database Instance Query Support SonicWALL GMS could create a new database instance as often as every day, making multi-database query support critical, especially for their archival feature. They found that MySQL had this capability whereas PostgreSQL did not.
  • Support for Table Schema Changes This was critical for GMS because its schemas/tables needed to change with each new product patch or release. They found that MySQL had complete support for table/schema changes while PostgreSQL's was limited.
  • Performance and Stability The SonicWALL development team found problems with PostgreSQL's stability and performance as compared with MySQL. "We didn't want to reintroduce the same stability and performance problems we had experienced with Microsoft SQL Server," said Naderi.
  • Standards Support MySQL's support for primary keys, foreign keys, large character indexing, stored procedures, triggers and views was key for the software and hardware versions of the GMS product.
  • Vendor Support and Market Share "We knew we wanted vendor support. It wasn't just about 'free' because open source isn't free," said Naderi. The lack of support from a larger, reputable vendor eliminated Firebird and raised concerns for them about using PostgreSQL.

MySQL's support from Sun then Oracle and large market share lead, indicated better testing across deployment scenarios and better support to the product team and gave them confidence in their investment.

  • Migration Tools SonicWALL needed migration toolkits that made it as easy as possible for their Microsoft SQL customers to move to the new GMS database. They were impressed with the large number of very good, highly automated MySQL tools, especially as contrasted with the PostgreSQL toolkits, which were far more manual and had less testing and documentation.

The Benefits of Using MySQL

Just six months after SonicWALL started using MySQL, SonicWALL was able to achieve the following results:

  • Lowered their COGS.
  • Improved economies of scale by standardizing on a single database platform.
  • Increased performance and reduced administration by having greater control over the database configuration and optimization.
  • Eliminated "work-arounds" because they have direct access to MySQL for assistance.
  • Shortened new product time-to-market through the efficiencies they gained in Development, Quality Assurance, and Documentation.
  • Reduced the number of trouble tickets they received by over 20%.

Based on the very positive results SonicWALL had with MySQL Server in its GMS product, they decided to standardize all SonicWALL products that require a data store on MySQL.

"Overall, using MySQL has been highly synergistic. MySQL has provided greater stability for GMS, opened a growth path for us and provided the missing link in our story as compared with the competition. In less than one year, we recouped our initial investment: we achieved 100% ROI in under nine months through lowered development, QA, tech pubs, training and support costs alone." said Naderi.



"We had performed a comprehensive product cost analysis that showed the majority of our development, quality assurance, and documentation cycles and dollars were being spent on supporting Microsoft SQL Server configurations," "In addition, we found that one out of every five trouble tickets had been opened against issues dealing with the integration to Microsoft SQL Server."
Greg Naderi, SonicWALL Product Line Manager

"In less than a year, we recouped our initial investment. We achieved 100% ROI in under nine months through lowered development, QA, tech pubs, training and support costs alone."
Greg Naderi, SonicWALL Product Line Manager

"We knew we wanted vendor support. It wasn't just about 'free' because open source isn't free. MySQL's phone support and professional services have been stellar."
Greg Naderi, SonicWALL Product Line Manager

"We had performed a comprehensive product cost analysis that showed the majority of our development, quality assurance, and documentation cycles and dollars were being spent on supporting Microsoft SQL Server configurations," "In addition, we found that one out of every five trouble tickets had been opened against issues dealing with the integration to Microsoft SQL Server."
Greg Naderi, SonicWALL Product Line Manager