Firewall Testing Starts on June 06 With Minor Service Interruptions

Executive Summary: Between 5:00 AM and 7:00 AM from Tuesday, June 06, through Thursday, June 08, SELCO will conduct testing of our new firewall in preparation for putting it into production by July 01. During these periods, technology services may be unavailable for brief periods. We do not expect all services to be down at the same time. It is impossible to predict when or if a given service will be unavailable during the testing period.

More Details: It had a good run but the time has come to retire the firewall in the SELCO office. As you probably know already, a firewall is a device that screens communications between a local network and the internet.* The firewall that protects the SELCO office, its PCs, and servers (including Horizon) is several years old now and, rather than risk it failing unexpectedly some day, we are putting it out to pasture. Which means we need to install a new firewall.

This is not a simple task. Firewalls do their magic through a complex database of rules governing what kinds of internet traffic is allowed in/out and what gets blocked. Misconfiguring a rule can result in serious problems; traffic that you want (like Horizon) might get blocked while stuff you don’t want gets in. In theory, you can copy the rule set from your old firewall to the new one but it’s never that simple. Variations in the way different firewalls operate always require tweaking and testing.

We ordered our new firewall last month and have been configuring it with all the rules it needs to manage our internet traffic. It’s time to start testing live. From Tuesday, June 06, through Thursday, June 08, we will conduct testing between 5:00 AM and 7:00 AM. During this two-hour window, we will:

  • disconnect the old firewall
  • connect the new firewall
  • test our technology services, connections, and operations
  • resolve issues that emerge and test again

We’ll keep this up until we are confident that everything works with the new firewall just as it did with the old. The license on the old firewall expires on July 01, at which point it will stop functioning.  Our goal is to have the new firewall in place no later than June 23.

During the 5:00 AM to 7:00 AM window on Tuesday, June 06, through Thursday, June 08, there will be (hopefully) brief outages of various services. We do not expect all services to be down at the same time and it’s impossible to predict what might go down at any given moment. By conducting our testing early in the morning after schools have largely let out, we hope to avoid excessive inconvenience to libraries and library patrons. Depending on how things go, we may have to add additional testing days; in that event, we will post an update to this news item.

Thank you for your patience as we strive to provide the most robust and stable library technology services possible. Please contact the Help Desk with any questions on the new firewall or our testing process.

*The term is also used for software that protects a PC but that’s a topic for another time.