Proventia Network MX1004
Strengths: Easy-to-use appliance with some good functionality
Weaknesses: Documentation lacks depth
Verdict: A winner for small and medium-sized enterprises in a very small footprint
We must say that in our ever-evolving world of technology, size really does not matter. This appliance is hardly bigger than a home router, but it packs some big features. The IBM Proventia Network Multi-Function Security (MFS) MX1004 includes a firewall and IPS as well as functionality to catch viruses, spam and phishing at the gateway. This little box also includes a VPN and a web content filter.
We found this product to be quite simple to use from deployment to configuration to management. Setup takes just a few minutes and consists of plugging the device into the network and following the simple wizard. This will prepare the appliance for proper deployment mode and get it ready to plug into the environment. Once the wizard is complete, you do a bit of configuration tweaking through a Java-based web GUI and the appliance is up and running. The GUI itself is just as simple to navigate and well organised.
This product performed well throughout our tests and the default policy blocked all our attacks. We liked the real-time logging capability of this device. We were able to see exactly what attacks were happening, where they were coming from and how dangerous they were.
On the subject of documentation, while we were disappointed that this appliance does not come with the usual large quick-start card provided by other vendors, it does arrive with a much smaller one and an administrator guide. The getting-started card clearly defines installation and set-up, while the administrator guide gives a brief overview of maintaining the device and its features. We found the administrator guide to be lacking in depth, however, and there were no illustrations or screenshots to provide further illustration.
Technical support, advanced exchange and updates are available on an annual renewal basis. Further support includes professional installation and support services. The company also offers a knowledge base and product documentation on its website.
At a price of less than £800, this product is a great investment for small to medium-sized environments. While it does not have all the bells and whistles of some of its larger counterparts, it does offer some quality protection in one easy-to-manage box.