ISS Proventia Makes Gateway Security Simpler

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Internet Security Systems further simplifies gateway security with the ISS Proventia M10 Integrated Security Appliance. The Proventia M series appliances offer one-stop security for small to midsize business needs and can also secure branch offices of larger enterprise networks. CRN Test Center engineers tested the Proventia M10, an all-in-one security appliance that offers several levels of protection at a network's edge.

The unit successfully integrates an SPI firewall with VPN server support and a glut of other security technologies, such as intrusion prevention, antivirus, antispam and content filtering. The diminutive but rugged M10 can be installed almost anywhere with access to power and internet connections. So many of the products reviewed by the CRN Test Center are made from inexpensive plastics, and the M10's quality metal housing was a refreshing change. The unit offers clearly identified Internal Ethernet, External Ethernet and DMZ ports. The back of the unit also has a DB9 console connection for administrative access to the unit via a terminal session. LEDs on the front of the unit provide information about the status of power, network activity and network traffic through the various network interface ports.

Administrative chores are managed through a browser-based console that offers a concise view of the unit's status and provides access to the various configuration options. Initial setup is more difficult than it should be for a device aimed at the SMB market. The problem is that installers are forced to use a serial connection and VT100-compatible terminal emulation software. Since serial ports are no longer standard equipment on notebook and desktop computers, and VT100 terminal software is losing its appeal, the M10's initial setup can be problematic for some solution providers that don't have this legacy equipment. A better solution would be to include a USB port on the unit and bundle the appliance with a wizard-driven configuration application.

Luckily, the initial setup process is a one-time event, and all other setup and administration chores are accomplished using a secure browser connection. The unit's management console is adequate, but does lack the panache found in today's latest appliances.
The unit's security features are based upon installed licenses for each unique service. Solution providers will need to install the license files for both functionality and support needs. Critical licensing elements focus on the antispam, antivirus and content-filtering applications. The license-based options offer additional upsell opportunities and ongoing revenue streams for solution providers that actively support ISS' products.

While the unit does not offer failover support, solution providers will be impressed with the unit's data-recovery options. An emergency recovery disk is included, which will restore the unit's factory defaults, while an integrated backup function allows administrators to save various settings they have applied to the appliance.

The included documentation is thorough and offers step-by-step instructions for accomplishing various tasks. After initial setup and programming, the unit needs little monitoring or tweaking -- this is a set-it-and-forget-it security solution. Antispam, antivirus and content-filtering elements are updated automatically, while integrated e-mail notifications will inform assigned users if problems occur. As far as performance goes, the unit offers adequate processing speed to meet the needs of even the busiest small networks.

Other than some setup stumbling blocks and a less-than-elegant interface, the M10 brings a bevy of the most popular security functions to small to midsize networks or branch offices without breaking the bank or overly complicating security services.

ISS' three-tier SecurePartner channel program separates partners into Authorized, Premier and Registered resellers. All levels are required to meet quarterly sales targets and to sign a partner agreement with ISS. Partners have access to demonstration units, sales training and support, access to a dedicated sales team, an aggressive discount structure, joint marketing opportunities, MDF and e-mail news alerts. A dedicated partner Web site is also available. Authorized partners must have at least one ISS-certified sales representative and one ISS-certified engineer on staff. Premier partners must have at least two ISS-certified sales reps and two ISS-certified engineers on staff. Premier-level partners receive on-site sales training, quarterly strategy planning sessions and sales leads.

The M10 is priced starting at $1,546. ISS did not disclose average margin information.

Although the M10 simplifies security administration chores, CRN Test Center engineers would not recommend the appliance for less technically savvy integrators.

> Proventia M10 Integrated Security Appliance
COMPANY: Internet Security Systems
Atlanta, Ga.
(888) 901-7477
DISTRIBUTORS: GE Access, Westcon

Note: Recommended status is earned with a score of eight stars out of 10

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