F5 Networks Firepass
Strengths: Many features included with the Firepass.
Weaknesses: Initial setup and administration come with a steep learning curve.
Verdict: A good product that scales well for many environments.
SummaryThe F5 offering is an appliance that uses a browser. The browser client installs and runs similar to an IPsec client. This allows the user access to the entire network or a subset of the network once the client is installed. The Firepass can pull user account settings from a variety of sources, including Active Directory, Windows Domain, LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) and local account database. The Firepass also has several different mechanisms for installing a client IP address for the VPN user. The Firepass also comes with multiple Ethernet interfaces that can have a unique IP address installed on each interface.
The installation of the Firepass is a somewhat complicated process. The unit ships with an IP address assigned to the first Ethernet interface, as well as the management interface. It is slightly difficult to change these IP addresses to something that can be used on an organization’s network. There is a quick configuration wizard to change these settings, but before trying the wizard we attempted to change the IP addresses manually and found the process confusing and not effective. On the third attempt we were successful in changing the IP addresses so we could install the device in the network.
All configuration for this system takes place via a web browser. As the Firepass ships with an LED front panel, we would like to see the ability to change the IP of the management console from the front panel. This would simplify installation. Once the unit has been properly addressed, the web-based administration interface is moderately confusing the first few times an administrator sees it.
The Firepass arrives with a printed getting started guide. Additional documentation is in the form of several PDFs, which are indexed. This makes it easy to look up needed topics.
Support is offered through phone and a password-protected web portal. One-year, 8x5 support is included in the purchase price.
The pricing for the Firepass begins at $6,990 for concurrent 10 users, and increases to $39,990 for 250 concurrent users. Given average support and difficulty of implementation, we find the Firepass an average value.