Hardware and Software Requirements

Providing firewall failover capabilities involves several basic hardware and software requirements. The firewalls must have the following:

  • Same PIX firewall hardware models

  • Same amount of RAM memory

  • Same amount of flash memory

  • Same type and number of interfaces

  • Special serial cable (optional)

  • Same version of software

  • Same activation keys for DES or 3DES

When configuring for failover, firewall models need to be exactly the same all the way down to their memory sizes.


The PIX firewalls need to have the same hardware models for failover to work properly, but failover support is not available on all models. The 501, 506, and 506E do not support failover functionality; only the 515 and above models do.


Software on the two firewalls also needs to be the same version number; otherwise , failover might not work properly.

Every model of the PIX firewall, including the 501, uses the same software ”activation keys just enable extra features within the software. However, you still cannot use failover on the lower models.


Activations keys also need to be installed to enable the failover functionality of the software. Cisco has several licensing features for failover, as listed in Table 11.1.

Table 11.1. Licenses




The unrestricted license must be used on the primary (active) firewall and can optionally be used on the secondary (standby) firewall.


The failover license is used for secondary standby modes only.


The restricted license cannot be used for either the primary or secondary firewall.

Now that you have seen the various licenses available, Table 11.2 displays the possible primary and secondary licensing combinations.

Table 11.2. Licensing Combinations

Primary (Active)

Secondary (Standby)

Combination 1



Combination 2




The PIX does not have separate software for failover protection. Only activation keys are necessary to enable the features.

CSPFA Exam Cram 2 (Exam 642-521)
CCSP CSPFA Exam Cram 2 (Exam Cram 642-521)
ISBN: 0789730235
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2003
Pages: 218

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