This appliance hails from a Swedish company that has been going since 1997. The software runs on a Sun Netra X1 box (1U in size). It also has the widest range of client types we saw in this test.

Setting up was easy, since the box came pre-configured with an IP-address that meant we just had to change a couple of things in our test network. Once the server was set up, we fired up our browser. The initial home page gave us a choice either to connect to the server through the Java applet or download the client.

As nothing else appeared to be configured, we installed the administration console provided on the disk - we also installed the client for later testing. The console window itself is split into two panes, with one side housing an Explorer-like tree of possible options to monitor and configure.

Here lies a tale of why you should always read the manual first - the console is not really intuitive enough for the wet-behind-the-ears administrator to get going with fast. But on reading the manual, there is a section devoted to wizards. There are six of them ranging, from administration to web access.

Having kicked off with one and gone through the step-by-step guide, we thought we would have configured secure FTP access through the client. On starting up the client and entering our test user details we then found a number of error messages popping up. Re-reading the guide did not shed any light on the matter. Eventually we managed to get this working but it was a long struggle and made us wish the administrator's guide was a bit more helpful.

The connection between the client and server can be encrypted using algorithms such as AES (128, 192 and 256-bit keys), Blowfish, triple-DES and Arcfour (RC4), which should give organizations the freedom to use the box within their preferred security set-up.

Each service can be configured to either allow carte-blanche access, firewall access or 'picky' access. The last option is rule based: on time of access, who accesses the server and how they enter it. The console allows administrators to make up their own rules and apply them to different users and groups.

The AppGate server is a good all-round appliance and would suit the large enterprise. But it needs a lot of work and effort to work out how to get the thing going in the first place.