Virtual vs. physical firewalls: why going virtual wins


Introduction: understanding virtual firewalls

As businesses adapt to hybrid work models, traditional hardware firewalls are reaching their limits. Designed for on-premises security, they excel within office perimeters but may struggle in remote work culture. 

Gartner® highlighted this gap, predicting a significant shift toward Firewall-as-a-Service (FWaaS) by 2025. This transition reflects a growing need for security that goes beyond physical boundaries.

Cloud firewalls, such as NordLayer Cloud Firewall, step in to fill this gap. It extends protection to every endpoint, anywhere, bridging the gap left by traditional firewalls. Moreover, it simplifies security management and adapts to various environments, from the office to the cloud. 

Key takeaways

  • Cloud firewalls deploy faster and cheaper than physical ones, needing no physical setup and integrating online quickly.

  • They're cost-effective, with automatic updates, free patches, and lower operational costs due to no physical maintenance.

  • Cloud firewalls allow easy, fast updates and policy changes via the web, perfect for changing businesses.

  • They scale easily, adjusting resources as needed without hardware delays and offering flexible payment options.

  • Ideal for hybrid work, cloud firewalls provide consistent access and security for both remote and office workers, unlike office-restricted physical firewalls.

Easier, faster and cheaper deployment

In the past, we purchased a physical firewall akin to a router and placed it in the office server room. This box was then connected to the modem. 

Setting up a physical firewall meant engaging in physical setup, network configuration, and rigorous testing—a process demanding both time and technical know-how.

A Cloud Firewall offers a modern and straightforward approach to network security. Its setup includes a few steps: choosing a provider, setting up a gateway, and adding rules. This method fits smoothly into your existing network, eliminating the need for extra hardware and saving time and resources. Plus, testing is faster than with traditional methods.

The ease and speed of installing a Cloud Firewall benefit IT teams greatly. For example, setting it up with NordLayer can take just 10 minutes.

Firewall deployment

Starting from zero with no cybersecurity means both cloud and physical firewalls need initial setup time. Time-wise, the difference isn't very large. 

A physical firewall could be more cost-effective if you have the right staff. But that's only true if your business doesn't plan to grow or change work formats.

Easier, faster and cheaper maintenance 

Firewall maintenance includes regularly updating and applying patches to ensure optimal security. It also involves monitoring for any potential vulnerabilities and making necessary adjustments.

A Cloud Firewall is more efficient, cost-effective, and reliable even for businesses where everyone works in the office. Its lower maintenance, easy management, and strong security make it great for those seeking easy and effective network protection.

Here are things to consider about a physical firewall

  • Yearly maintenance costs 10–20% of the initial price.

  • Redundancy needs double the investment.

  • Power outages disable it without UPS investment.

  • May need special training or staff.

  • Manual updates need constant attention.

  • Support could mean extra costs.

  • Hardware upgrades are pricey.

  • Might use more bandwidth.

Cloud Firewall benefits

  • Support services are part of the subscription.

  • Removes the need for multiple firewalls.

  • Works without direct power, avoiding outage issues.

  • Updates and maintenance happen automatically.

  • Upgrades are free, keeping security current.

  • Manage and monitor easily from a browser.

  • Updates without interrupting network protection.

  • Little technical knowledge needed, but support is available.

  • Uniform security throughout your network.

  • It uses no office space.

Firewall maintenance

Easier and more flexible rules update

Rule change scenario

NordLayer's Cloud Firewall allows easy creation of rules. The control panel is user-friendly for everyone, regardless of IT expertise.

With NordLayer Cloud Firewall, you can edit or disable any rule anytime. You can manage and update destination address and network services centrally in the NordLayer Control Panel. Any changes to IP addresses or network services automatically update all firewalls where they are in use. Rules for each employee turn off automatically when their NordLayer account is terminated. Plus, every action is documented for tracking.

Easier, faster, and cheaper scalability 

Cloud firewalls offer easy scalability without physical hardware. They adjust resources on demand, avoiding the extra costs and delays of buying and installing equipment. Their automated setup and simple web interface configuration allow quick changes, making transitions smooth.

These firewalls are cost-effective, too. They cut down on operational costs, as there's no need for physical upkeep or upgrades. This approach, along with less strain on IT staff, makes cloud firewalls economical for growing businesses’ network security.

Firewall scalability

With a physical firewall, more planning means slower progress.

Enables and protects hybrid infrastructure & hybrid workforce

A traditional physical firewall is strong and reliable for teams that only work in the office. Its benefits are clear in a fixed setting. But its advantages lessen when your team mixes office with remote or travel work. 

While you can access on-premises firewalls from any location through IPSec tunnels or similar technology, this approach may reduce convenience, slow down processes, and complicate matters, especially with multiple sites.

The Cloud Firewall adapts to this evolving work scene. It enables and secures team members working from anywhere, be it at home, a cafe abroad, or an airport. 

It removes location limits, giving remote workers the same access and security as office staff. For businesses with global teams and flexible work, the Cloud Firewall leads in providing secure and effortless connectivity.


Cloud Firewall brings a major upgrade in network security. It meets the needs of modern hybrid businesses with its ease of use and cost efficiency. It removes the reliance on physical hardware and delivers strong security from the cloud to every endpoint. This change not only boosts safety but also improves IT operations.

Setting up a Cloud Firewall is easy: for that, you need to be a NordLayer Premium plan user. It’s manageable through the NordLayer Control Panel.

In short, choosing NordLayer’s Cloud Firewall is a strategic step towards a more secure, efficient, and forward-looking network.

For more details about our Cloud Firewall, contact our sales for assistance. 

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