IBM's Proventia Network MX1004
Strengths: Easy to use appliance with some good functionality.
Weaknesses: Documentation lacks depth.
Verdict: A winner for small- and mid-sized enterprises in a very small footprint.
We must say that in our ever-evolving world of technology size really does not matter. This appliance is only a little bigger than a home router but it packs some big features. The IBM Proventia Network Multi-Function Security (MFS) MX1004 includes features such as firewall and IPS, as well as functionality to catch viruses, spam and phishing at the gateway. This little box also includes a VPN and a web content filter.
We found this product to be quite simple to use from deployment to configuration to management. Setup takes just a few minutes and consists of plugging the device into the network and following the simple setup wizard. The wizard will setup the appliance for the proper deployment mode and get the appliance ready to plug into the en vironment.
After the wizard is complete, do a bit of configuration tweaking through a Java-based web GUI and the appliance is up and running. The GUI itself is also just as simple to navigate and well organized.
This product performed well through our tests and the default policy blocked all of our attacks. We really liked the real-time logging capability of this device. We were able to see exactly what attacks were happening, where they were coming from, and how dangerous they were.
On the subject of documentation, while we were disappointed that this appliance did not come with the usual large getting started card provided with the larger appliances, this appliance comes with a much smaller one and an administrator guide. The getting started card clearly defines installation and setup, while the administrator guide gives a brief overview of maintaining the device and its features. We found the administrator guide to be lacking in depth, however, and there were no illustrations or screen shots to provide further illustration.
Technical support, advanced exchange and updates are available on an annual renewal basis. Further support includes professional installation and support services. The company also offers a knowledge base and product documentation on its website.
At a price of just over $1,500, this product is a great investment for small- to medium-sized environments. While it does not have all the bells and whistles of some of its larger counterparts, it does offer some quality protection in one easy to manage box.