Forum Systems Sentry API Gateway
Strengths: Hardened, secure device, FIPS certified, and an excellent range of features.
Weaknesses: None that we could find.
Verdict: One of the best options out there. Be sure to give this one a look. We make this our Recommended product this month.
The Forum Systems Sentry API Gateway is a comprehensive application security appliance that allows users to set up robust security over a variety of different protocols and data formats. It is the only FIPS certified API gateway, and everything about the system was designed with security in mind. It is available in a variety of formats. We used the physical appliance for our testing, but Sentry is also available as a virtual machine or as a regular software installer that can be deployed on Windows and Linux. Because of all these options, Sentry can be scaled to fit in any environment. It is also unique in the sense that it sits in-line and functions as a layer 4-7 device. This allows it to maintain maximum security by getting a complete sense of everything flowing through the network.
When we removed Sentry from the box, we were surprised to see that it does not come with a VGA port. Instead, it comes with a console cable and serial port. Sentry comes this way to enhance security: By communicating through a serial port, Sentry can completely lock down access to the kernel to make it tamper proof. After we connected it, opened our terminal emulator and powered on the device, Sentry came to life. We were greeted with a ASCII setup utility where we configured the parameters for the management interface, as well as the appliance's hardware security device.
We received two pieces of documentation when we unboxed the unit. The first manual covered hardware installation and also walked us through connecting the device to a terminal emulator. It then went on to describe the procedure for configuring the management interface. The second manual was focused on the hardware security device and walked us through configuring it. Overall, the documentation was well written and easy to follow. It included plenty of pictures and screen captures of the serial console which helped us get through initial setup.
The support that Forum Systems provides is a major talking point. In addition to standard nine-hours-a-day/five-days-a-week support, Forum offers premium assistance that dedicates a support person to your deployment. You are given their direct contact information and they are available 24/7/365. They are system engineers as well as support people and will come on site to assist with all aid throughout the product lifetime. Premium support also includes free hardware replacement - a big plus since many of these systems are never powered off until they are decommissioned. Premium support is 20 percent of purchase price while standard assistance is 15 percent. Both levels include phone and email help as well as access to Forum's web helpdesk.
Overall, the Sentry is an excellent value for the price. Even though it carries a heavy price tag - starting at $25,000 plus support - it is unmatched among its competitors. Forum Systems hit a home run with this product, and one should definitely consider this when looking for an API gateway. This product is definitely worthy of its Recommended designation.