Proventia M50 Integrated Security Appliance
Strengths: Fully featured enterprise-level VPN, firewall and IDSs.
Weaknesses: Web GUI slow to respond; requires IE6.
Verdict: Multiple functions well-catered for in an enterprise environment.
This appliance boasts comprehensive security functionality, including a stateful inspection firewall, VPN server, intrusion prevention, gateway anti-virus, gateway anti-spam and web filtering. The substantial, well-constructed 2U rackmount unit has a redundant power supply and sits between a corporate network and a WAN router.
Initial setup is either by a serial connection and telnet, or a directly attached keyboard and monitor. We chose the latter. After entering the default user name and password, we came to the initial configuration utility that asked us to set up: a machine name; the internal and external interface; time and data, together with root admin; Proventia Manager; and bootloader passwords.
We then checked the other setup option – the web-based configuration interface, but had difficulty setting up the telnet session. The screen eventually loaded, said it had detected that our Java Runtime Environment version was not up to date, and prompted us to “upgrade.” So we downloaded the Java RE file as directed. The setup also told us that our browser, Firefox, was not the recommended browser, and suggested we change over to IE6.
The web GUI seemed slower than expected, irrespective of which browser we used. However we fired it up. The clear, menu-based system for configuring the firewall, VPN and IPS functions took a long time to load up option screens as we tried to setup and make changes.
There are also options to set up web filtering, anti-virus and anti-spam capabilities, although anti-virus functionality requires an additional license.
Configuring the system took longer than we expected because of the slow GUI, but once the configuration changes had been accepted, they came into effect immediately, as expected with an enterprise-class device.
Documentation is well-designed, with a Quick Start guide and a much more detailed tome that is about an inch and a half thick. But like some other products under review here, the setup and configuration instructions were not laid out in a linear and logical way – forcing users to jump between chapters and sections.