eSoft InstaGate 604
Strengths: Feature rich with a low cost.
Weaknesses: None that we found
Verdict: For its rich feature set and excellent pricing, we make this our Best Buy this month.
The InstaGate 604 from eSoft is an appliance we have seen come back year after year with an array of great features and functionality at a reasonable cost. This product offers a stateful firewall with deep packet inspection capabilities, proxy-based scanning, real-time threat monitoring, scanning of both web and email for worms and viruses, and protection from bots and other network attacks. This product can be loaded with functionality by using specific SoftPaks made available from eSoft, allowing for complete customization of features and services.
We found this product is about as plug and play as a network security appliance can get. The initial setup process takes just a few minutes and the appliance is pretty much up and protecting the network with just a few clicks of the mouse. To begin the setup, we plugged the InstaGate into our network so it could grab a dynamic host configuration protocol (DHCP)-assigned address. Once it had an address, we were able to access the web-based setup wizard through a web browser. This short setup wizard helped us get a base configuration in place, as well as download and update the SoftPaks that were registered to the appliance. After the wizard was complete, we were able to access the web-based management console for all further administration and management.
We continue to find this appliance to be one of the easiest appliances to configure, use and manage. On the policy and management side, most configurations are as simple as on or off, but that does not mean this product lacks flexibility or granularity. This solution can be easily configured for a multitude of environments. It also features a solid dashboard that is centered around the ThreatMonitor, which shows real-time reporting of events and traffic with clear charts and graphs that are easy to read even at a quick glance.
Documentation included a short quick-start guide that detailed the initial setup process with clear step-by-step instructions and screen shots, as well as a full user guide. The user guide also provided many screen shots and step-by-step instructions on device and feature configuration, as well as overall device management procedures. We found all documentation to be well organized and easy to follow.
eSoft offers 90 days of no-cost phone support to help get the appliance up and running. After 90 days, customers can purchase phone support on a per incident basis or as a yearly subscription for unlimited 24/7 support. Also available is a plan that includes unlimited phone support, hardware care, software updates and hot swap service. All customers also can access a web-based assist area that includes product documentation and a knowledge base.
At a price just shy of $2,000, plus an annual cost of around $1,500 for software, maintenance and technical support, we find this product to be an excellent value for the money. The eSoft InstaGate is powerful enough to protect some of the larger environments with an impressive feature set, but it has a price tag that even small environments can easily handle. We find this product to be a solid value for the money.