SonicWALL's Global Management System software is very much the dark horse in its stable, the only clue to its existence being an enigmatic tick-box in Sonicwall appliances' management screens.
This is a pity, because it is a very capable performer indeed. It is also a demanding creature, with serious, although not unreasonable, hardware and software requirements.
Any Windows 2000 or later system with 1GB of main memory, and either Oracle 220.127.116.11 or Microsoft SQL Server 2000 database management software installed will be sufficient, although the system can be spread over several servers for extra resilience and performance.
Unlike some other programs we have tried, meeting these requirements produced a usable and responsive system.
The installation process is simple, although it is advisable to read the documentation carefully before hand. Online help is available at all points in the management interface. Although designed to manage and monitor very large numbers of Sonicwall devices, the system can monitor other devices, but not in much detail. It communicates with the Sonicwall devices under its control using VPN tunnels, and can manage local and remote systems with equal ease.
It provides comprehensive reporting options, collecting and analyzing data from many devices to gauge trends and potential performance problems. It is also possible to monitor a specific user's activities, and there is a realtime syslog-viewing feature available.
The monitoring functions provide a number of standardized alerts, but also allow custom alerts to be set for specific conditions.
The system's ability to define network security policies, firewall rules and VPN policies for all its devices can be used to ensure that security is not compromised by configuration differences, and it can also apply firmware upgrades to remote devices and track license data for them.
This software could be invaluable to any administrator responsible for the care and maintenance of multiple SonicWALL devices.