Anyone who follows this blog knows that Azure Firewall is a key resource for me in successful Azure deployments. Its combination of ease of deployment and functionality easily outpace alternative vendor choices on Azure. Up until now, we have had a Standard and Premium SKU. The Premium SKU introduced new features to Standard. Now, we have a Basic SKU and several features have been removed. Let’s explore what the Basic SKU offers.
First up, deployment and infrastructure. At it’s core, Basic is the same resource. Meaning it still has built-in HA. However, it is a fixed scale, meaning two instances only. However, Availability Zones are still covered, meaning choices up to 99.99% for SLAs are achievable. Fixed scale does mean a more limited bandwidth capability, Basic has up to 250Mbps in comparison to Standard which is up to 30Gbps. That’s not a typo!
Microsoft call out the fact they are targeting SMB customers with this SKU. But that doesn’t mean that the features of Basic wouldn’t suit an Enterprise spoke, or specific environment requirement where cost vs features work.
So let’s take a look at the features included. The basics are all the same, multiple Public IPs, inbound/outbound NAT etc. (there is a full list here) but some specifics worth calling out are:
- Network Rules – As Basic does not support DNS Proxy, you can only use standard, non-FQDN rules in Network filtering. More on that for Standard here.
- Threat Intelligence – While it can be enabled, it can only be used in alert mode. This means you would have to accept this, and/or monitor logs to adjust rules based on alerts.
This means that once you are aware of the functionality and limitations, Basic may be a great choice for your environment. Especially when you consider one of its main benefits – cost. There are two costs associated directly with Azure Firewall:
- Data Processing
Deployment wise, Basic is considerably cheaper versus Standard. Deploying to North Europe, Basic should be approximately €266/month in comparison to Standard at circa €843/month.
However, data processing is more expensive on Basic. 1Tb of data processing for Basic, in North Europe will be approximately €62/month, which is quite a bit more than Standard coming in at around €15/month. So this is definitely one to keep an eye on in your environment. There is no reservation or similar choice here, Standard and Premium simply have a lower processing price.
Thankfully, integration with Azure Monitor is unchanged across SKUs, so you can capture all of the data you need.
The experience within portal, or via shell for deployment and management is also unchanged. The portal dynamically calls out what is allowed/functional when using a Basic policy, so confusion is avoided.
In conclusion, I think Basic is a great addition to the AFW family. I would have liked to see DNS Proxy included in the feature set, I see this deployed everywhere now and the Network rule functionality it adds is excellent. I am also interested to see how/if that throughput limit will come into play for specific scenarios.
As always, if there are any questions, please get in touch!