Strengths: Solid IPS, even with the default policy and the firewall open
Weaknesses: Documentation lacks screenshots - as pointed out previously
Verdict: A pleasant surprise this year. Solid performance and a good price make this our Recommended choice
The IBM Proventia Network Multi-Function Security (MFS) appliance may look small on the outside but it is full of big functionality. It combines firewall, VPN, SSL VPN, intrusion prevention, anti-virus, anti-spam, web/URL filtering and application protection.
This product was easy, from setup all the way through advanced management. The initial configuration takes a few minutes and is guided by an easy-to-follow setup wizard.
After the setup wizard completes, all other management is done through the intuitive web interface. This GUI has a nice layout with an easy-to-navigate, tree-based structure on the left of the screen and intuitive menus and configuration windows.
Policy is configured by using simple-to-manage drop-down menus and checkboxes, but it also allows for a nice amount of flexibility. Policies can become as broad or as granular as needed.
We found this product to perform quite well under test. Even with the firewall as open as we could configure it, the default IPS policy stopped all of our attacks and scans. The only place this product fell short is that we were able to cause it to stall out under heavy scans - but it did not let us break through even when it stalled.
Documentation includes a quick-start card, which illustrates the appliance ports with descriptions and shows how to connect to the setup wizard. Other documentation is in PDF format and includes an administrator guide and many deployment guides for various deployment options, and a policy configuration guide. These guides are well organised and easy to read, with many step-by-step instructions but no screenshots.
IBM ISS offers basic support at 22 per cent of list price, with select and premium support offerings available. These offer various levels of phone- and web-based support as well as updates and upgrades. A knowledgebase, product documentation and various downloads are available on the website.
At a price of about £750, this product is excellent value for money. This appliance offers a lot of features in an easy-to-use, inexpensive device.