Strengths: Very powerful IM security appliance
Weaknesses: Web-based management console a bit clunky
Verdict: A fully-functional enterprise solution that requires some preparation to fully exploit its potential
The Akonix A6000 appliance came as a rebadged Dell PowerEdge 850 box that uses AkOS, the supplier's own hardened operating system that was custom-developed on the Linux 2.6 kernel.
The initial set-up for this 1U-sized server was done with a keyboard and monitor. We consulted the four-page quick set-up guide and after typing in the IP address, time and date, as well as the hostname of the box and loading up the licence file from a CD included with the appliance, we were ready to go. Once these basics are in place, the rest of the configuration can be done by logging onto a web-based console.
This console is very spartan on first impressions and reveals only a small menu with some icons. Clicking on the appliance manager brings up a further set of options to update the various packages that comprise the different elements of the appliance. It appeared that our test box was up to date, so we then configured the remaining items on our checklist.
The Gateway Service menu gave a list of options. We found that product and anti-virus updates were easy to download and install. The product redirects IM traffic via the domain name system (DNS) setting. By default, instant messaging traffic is directed to the Akonix L7 Gateway by DNS redirection or by SOCKS 5 clients. In most cases, the default connection is used and no additional configuration is required.
The Enforcer Service is where the main action takes place. Here we found rules governing who can do what with IM. Setting up rules was pretty straightforward. Although for some reason, every time we clicked on an option, the menu would refresh and we had to scroll down again to reach other options under the Enforcer Service menu. We were using the Firefox browser to access the console so this may have had a bearing on this tiny foible.
Users and groups can either be set up locally or taken from directories such as LDAP, Active Directory or Novell eDirectory. User policies can be set up by clicking on the user policies option under communications management.
The range of blocking options is impressive, however, and includes comprehensive configuration options, including type of attachments such as PDF.
This is a very effective appliance, but time is needed to fully master its capabilities.