Vasco's aXs Guard
Strengths: Comprehensive UTM and strong authentication in one appliance.
Weaknesses: Difficult to manage and configure.
Verdict: A solid product with some unusual features -- a bit tough on the administrator.
When most people think of Vasco they think of strong authentication. The aXs GUARD takes Vasco’s strong authentication expertise one step further and combines it with a fully functional UTM. This appliance not only has UTM features — such as firewall, IPS, gateway malware protection from viruses, worms, spam and spyware, VPN and SSL-VPN — but it also works with DIGIPASS to provide strong authentication.
However, not all this functionality is easy to use. The device comes completely unconfigured all the way down to the first step, which is to create the administrator user. Once the administrator is created, all configuration is done manually without the help of a wizard. On top of all that, the web GUI used for administration is awkward and hard to navigate, and certain features and configurations are hard to understand. For a product of this complexity, we would have really liked to see a setup wizard.
With that said, we found that once we got past the configuration barriers, this appliance has some great performance features. Since is does also bring two-factor authentication to the table, it can be configured to integrate directly into an existing RADIUS and Active Directory infrastructure. This can be an excellent way to configure both authentication and network usage policies.
A getting started guide includes some basic information and definitions, as well as the initial setup process. This guide is nicely organized and includes many screen shots, but does not give any step by step instruction or examples. This can lead to confusion in some steps.
Vasco offers phone and email support Monday through Friday only from 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m. (Central European Time). More support is available with a support contract.
At a price of $12,500 for 100 users with licenses, this product can seem pricey at first, but one must also consider that it is really like getting two products in one box. However, we do find this product to be an average value for the money for total cost of ownership due to its difficult configuration and management.