NETASQ sent us a very attractive 1U box which boasted a very impressive collection of features. While most of these did work as advertised, it was let down by its interface and set-up process. But the box did perform rather well in the end.
An almost incomprehensible startup guide (which mentioned every version of the product except the one we were testing) required us to download a multitude of files from an unbrowseable FTP site that timed out a lot and included a corrupt zip file. The files include the main documentation (which, thankfully, was much better) and the installer for the Windows-only management software.
The product line does include a web GUI, but although the box accepted connections, it informed us that only boxes with three or less ports could be managed and promptly disconnected. Trying the Firewall Manager utility, we were presented with a normal-looking view with a navigation tree on the left and a central pane for data. However, nearly all the tree nodes popped up modal dialogue boxes instead of using the central pane, and only a few provided cross-links to related tasks. This GUI experience really needs improving.
Other utilities provided were much better. A separate Firewall Monitor shows the run state of the device, showing configuration, rules, sessions and so on. It can generate an HTML report and can connect to multiple firewalls at once. A reporting tool slices and dices the log data into graphs and reports.
The firewall controls are very good. An IPS offers basic TCP packet rules and some more advanced protocol inspection.
We were pleased to see easy-to-configure traffic prioritization features and class-based queues for quality of service.
An onboard SSL VPN provides a neat Java applet for port redirection. Application proxies include SMTP, POP3 and HTTP complete with site classification, basic anti-spam and AV (ClamAV) filtering.
HA failover is provided, with support for PKI (including an onboard certificate authority of its own), and a built-in LDAP server to complement support for Radius, NTLM, Kerberos and others.
We really liked a feature that allows specific parts of the configuration to be restored from backup, so that, for example, a content filtering roll-back would not result in lost firewall rules.
This is a comprehensive unit with lots of features and good add-on software at an attractive price. But what a shame about the management software.
For: Excellent set of features.
Against: Dreadful GUI.
Verdict: With better management software, this could be a winner.