Top Layer IPS 5500-50
Strengths: Very simple deployment and good flexibility.
Weaknesses: Under a major attack, it would cause the management PC to lock up.
Verdict: Well-supported product with very good management capabilities.
This device incorporates several features in one box. It has real flexibility, with fully adjustable and customisable policies, port configuration, and management screens. It also offers several different report types, which make finding clear information about attacks or network activity easy. Reports can also be created according to a schedule set by an administrator and saved on the device for review later.
The appliance is very simple to deploy, set up and use. This is a single unit containing everything needed to protect a network. It sits inline between the router and firewall. After a quick configuration, the unit is up and running, instantly protecting the network.
The web interface is very simple to navigate, with a dashboard of real-time network activity on the main page. Through the wellorganised web interface, an administrator can find easy access to reporting engines and policy adjustment. Although not much configuration is necessary, if a policy needs to be changed or adjusted, the manuals make this a quick and easy task.
We found the IPS 5500 to be a strong box under pressure. It remained solid under almost all our testing parameters. However, when it was under extreme attack, the box would overload and make the web interface freeze and the management computer would have to be rebooted. We were able to bypass the appliance using Core Impact and penetrate the protected network.
The device comes with many different types of manuals and documentation, as well as a very simple-to-use quickstart guide that claims the product can be up and running smoothly in about 30 minutes, which we found to be just about right.
If any questions do arise during deployment and setup, there are references to different guides included in the quickstart manual. All documentation is very clear and concise, with very useful diagrams and topologies included.
This device has many types of support. Top Layer has a standard support centre that can be reached between 8am and 8pm (EST) by telephone. However, there is an option to upgrade support by joining their Web Integrated Support Environment (WISE) that provides not only online support, but also 24-7 telephone support.
The device comes with a pretty serious price tag. However, for a medium to large-sized network, it is a good buy. We found that because of the ease of use and deployment, this device actually will save money by not requiring extensive care and management.