Review: SonicWALL SSL-VPN 4000

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Review: SonicWALL SSL-VPN 4000

The SonicWall SSL-VPN 4000 is an appliance-based offering that uses a browser-based client known as NetExtender. The NetExtender client allows all applications to be passed through the SSL-VPN tunnel.

The client appears to work only in the Windows environment - it returned an error on each MacOS machine that tried to use the software. On a Windows system, the client is installed as a Firefox extension, which then runs in the system tray.

Once the application is running, the browser can be closed and the client remains connected. The SonicWall SSL VPN mirrors an IPSEC-based VPN in terms of feel, and the only difference is the protocol used by the client to connect. Authentication of the connected defaults is to an internal database on the SonicWALL device.

The installation of the SSL-VPN 4000 appliance was very easy. The entire configuration takes place via a web browser. The interface layout is acceptable and many of the common configuration steps require a little bit of familiarity with the SonicWall web interface.

If you have used a SonicWall device before the interface is very similar to that of the vendor's other products. We were able to configure and log into the SSL VPN session in less than 30 minutes.

The SSL-VPN 4000 comes with a printed getting started guide which is very well put together. The document walks the administrator through several configuration scenarios depending on the placement of the appliance in the enterprise's infrastructure.

Common configurations include installing on a firewall's existing DMZ interface, a new DMZ interface or a LAN interface. Additional documentation is in the form of PDF files included on a CD that ships with the SSL-VPN 4000.

Support is offered by phone as well as through a dedicated web portal. Ninety days of SonicWall Dynamic Support between 8am and 5pm, one year hardware warranty, and one year of software and firmware updates are included in the purchase price of the unit.

Additional support for office hours can be purchased for one, two or three years, with 24/7 support also available at a cost.

The £4,131 (A$9,370) price tag puts the SonicWall SSL-VPN 4000 in the middle of the spectrum of products tested. Considering the features offered, the appliance offers average value.

For: Easy for users to use once the unit is configured

Against: The web interface can be a bit confusing for first-time SonicWall users

Verdict: A good product which is above average on the whole


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