Virtual Firewall Service Frequently Asked Questions

Who is Cybera?

Cybera is a not-for-profit technology-neutral organization responsible for driving Alberta’s economic growth through the use of digital technology. Its core role is to oversee the development and operations of Alberta’s cyberinfrastructure — the advanced system of networks and computers that keeps government, educational institutions, not-for-profits, business incubators and entrepreneurs at the forefront of technological change.


What is the Firewall as a Service for K-12 Schools Pilot Project?

The Virtual Firewall Service is a scalable software (virtual) solution that Cybera is developing and operating for the K-12 education system in Alberta. It allows multiple institutions to run their firewall from a shared, virtual environment, doing away with the need for individual hardware setup or maintenance.


What is the timeline for the Pilot Project?

The pilot began August 22, 2016 and will end on October 31, 2017. There are three project phases, with some overlap between them (dates are also subject to change):

  1. Service Development Phase: August 22, 2016 – June 30, 2017

  2. Operational Pilot Service Phase: April 1, 2017 – August 31, 2017  

  3. Pilot Project Closure Phase: August 1, 2017 – October 31, 2017. Note, this is an administrative phase that includes assessing the successfulness and sustainability of the Pilot Project and preparation of a final report.

Who can participate in the Pilot Project?

Any K-12 School Board that is connected to Cybera’s network can participate in the Pilot Project. Cybera is looking for school boards to act as testers during the Service Development phase and/or participants in the Operational Pilot Service Phase. All testers and participants will play a valuable role in providing feedback on the development of the service and creating post-pilot plans.


What does it cost to participate in the Operational Pilot Service Phase?

Cybera has up to four free firewall software licenses available to distribute to pilot participants during the Operational Pilot Service Phase. Additional schools can participate, provided they are willing to cover the cost of the additional licenses and support. Of note, the software firewall license is perpetual, while there is annual licensing for subscriptions and support. For more information please see Q.7. (below) and/or please contact Cybera's Network Director Jean-François Amiot.


How are pilot participants chosen?

Pilot participants are chosen on a first-come, first-serve basis.


What software firewall is being deployed for the Pilot Project?

The software firewall for the pilot project is the Palo Alto Networks VM-100 (perpetual license), with subscriptions for Threat Management (annual license), PAN-DB URL Filtering (annual license) and Wildfire (annual license), and vendor support (annual cost). Please note that, while the Palo Alto Networks firewall software was chosen for this pilot, Cybera remains agnostic with respect to software firewall technology. Following the Pilot Project, our aim is to support a production software firewall service hosted on our Rapid Access Cloud that can deploy any software firewall technology.


What happens after the Pilot Project?

Throughout the pilot project, Cybera will develop a production service model and sustainability plan that will allow us to offer a post-pilot production Firewall as a Service to K-12 schools connected to our network. Depending on the success and sustainability of the Pilot Project, we may transition directly to a production service following the pilot. 


What is required to connect to the Virtual Firewall Service?

The details will need to be determined for each K-12 school, but essentially, testers and Operational Pilot Service Phase participants will be asked to divert their schools’ network traffic through a dedicated virtual firewall. This firewall will be hosted on a virtual machine in Cybera’s Rapid Access Cloud. For more information, please contact Cybera's Network Director Jean-François Amiot.