Review: Panda GateDefender Integra eSeries eSB

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Review: Panda GateDefender Integra eSeries eSB

Panda Security's GateDefender Integra eSeries eSB is both easy to set up and offers a rich feature set, with a great deal of flexibility. To get the most out of the product however, administrators should be familiar with a number of open-source technologies.

The product was provided to us as a bootable ISO. Upon boot, we were presented with a DOS-style GUI installer. We were prompted to input an IP address for the LAN interface, after which the OS installation proceeded to completion. After a quick reboot, the console directed us to access the product's web interface, where a post-installation wizard began. We chose a root password for console access and an administrator password for use in the web interface. We then configured the WAN interface and an administrator's email for notifications. This brought us to the end of the wizard, and a message was displayed indicating services were being restarted. However, there was no progress bar or any indication of activity until an authentication window popped up about a minute later.

We would have liked to see a more visual indicator of what the product was doing - we feared for a moment that it had locked up. After the first login, we were prompted to activate the device employing user credentials and an activation key provided by Panda Security's website. Once activated, the full device functionality was unlocked. 

The GateDefender Integra eSeries eSB provides all of the functionality we would expect from a UTM, featuring a firewall, HTTP proxy, content filter, spam and anti-virus filters, intrusion prevention system and VPN functionality. However, almost in its entirety, it comprised freely available open source software. For example: the base operating system appears to be RedHat Linux; IPS services are provided via Snort; the HTTP proxy via squid; spam filter via SpamAssassin; and so on. The real value comes from the included support and the outstanding administration interface. Panda Security has clearly put a great deal of effort into unifying these disparate software packages into a single, high-performance UTM. In addition, the company has built in a remote administration service that, when activated, permits an administrator to open a secure tunnel to their device via Panda Security's website.

Documentation is barely passable. While a number of PDFs are available - including quick-start, installation and user guides - they are extremely text-heavy. No bookmarks or indexing is included, and of the few diagrams and screenshots provided, some of them are in Spanish and some in English. The administrator's guide can be found on the website, but it is a HTML document and at times difficult to navigate. In addition to these weaknesses, information on some of the UTM features is scarce. The guides appear to have been written with the assumption that the administrator is already familiar with the software encapsulated in the product. 

Panda Security offers only one tier of support, which is provided 24/7/365 via phone or email. It also hosts an online knowledgebase, FAQs and user support forum.

The GateDefender Integra eSeries eSB is priced at £990 for 50 users for 12-month updates.

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