[olug] Power Cost comparison on firewall boxes

Christopher Cashell topher-olug at zyp.org
Mon Aug 8 00:42:34 UTC 2011

On Thu, Aug 4, 2011 at 2:09 AM, Aric <aric at omahax.com> wrote:
> IMO paying more money for a system designed to be used as a low end user
> terminal for a firewall to save $35 a year in electricity probably isn't
> worth it.

I would partially disagree with this, and say that it depends a lot on
the specific situation.  If you're concerned over $35/year, then this
is probably either for a home setup, home office, or for a pretty
small business where every dollar matters.  In situations like that,
your internet connection is probably going to be DSL or a business
cable modem, you're likely to have at most a few dozen computers using
the connection, and probably don't have a real data center to work
from, but at best, a wiring closet or a small "server room" (probably
a big closet).

In this situation, loss of Internet access for a few minutes probably
isn't the end of the world, and guaranteed uptime probably isn't a top
concern.  The added reliability of server class hardware and dual
power supplies may not be important enough to make up for the
increased power draw and (may or may not be a factor) the
significantly increased noise.  If there isn't a dedicated room/data
center for this hardware, rackmount servers are very loud.

Additionally, if you booted and ran from a USB flash drive, you would
remove one of the two primary failure points (and moving parts), in
the hard drive (the other being the power supply).  Or, for maximum
security, drop a CD drive in there and boot (and run) from CD
(guaranteed read-only filesystem).

I am curious at the potential need for a Gigabit network card, though.
 If this is a firewall, and $35/year in power is a purchase concern,
I'm having trouble coming up with any scenario where your internet
connection would exceed 100Mbit. ;-)


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