Work/Life Balance: The Firewall Makes a Save (a “Real IT” Story)


It can be tough to balance your personal life with work when your work is in network security. In my last post, I described how difficult it is for us in IT to defend against the kinds of attacks we see day in and day out. Worse, our own lives become less ours when the security systems we depend on to give us breathing room fall short of our reasonable expectations.

We spend all our time maintaining firewalls and intrusion detection systems, and attackers are always out there, trying to circumvent them. And still the data breaches continue, keeping us focused on threats instead of the life-side of the work/life balance.

Usually I blog about the nuts and bolts of network security solutions from the technology perspective. But there’s a work/life perspective, too, and those solutions can have a real impact on it. The impact is negative when the tools we use just add more stress to our efforts to keep our networks safe, and it’s positive when they help us.

What do I mean by negative and positive impacts?

You know those security appliances that need rebooting a few times a week, freeze up with a couple thousand encrypted connections or bottleneck the network with sluggish performance? Those make a pretty negative impact. They keep you at the office (or worse yet, hunched over your phone) long after you should have unplugged from work and plugged into your other life interests.

Positive impacts include firewalls that can update their signatures automatically and keep up with ever-growing pipes. If you can scale out your overall firewall surface by simply adding more units of the same firewall, instead of spending days and weeks experimenting with different equipment, that’s going to help you strike a work-life balance.

In many ways, technology just prolongs the workday and thwarts the work/life balance, but the right technology will actually help you move back into balance. It’s the stuff that’s going to let you enjoy a leisurely meal with friends, work a Sudoku without interruption and arrive on time for your child’s piano recital.

And keep your head in the game when you’re playing soccer.

We’ve written a Real IT story about an admin whose network security woes keep him from focusing on soccer, his passion in life. Our Real IT stories combine our customers’ actual circumstances in this case, a firewall problem and some of the circumstances that we believe surround them in their personal lives. Have a look at the story and let me know if it reminds you of yourself and your own work/life balance.

SonicWall Staff