Sophos NAC Advanced
Strengths: Full-scale NAC that is subscription-based, including support and updates
Weaknesses: Difficult installation and management processes
Verdict: Could be a bit easier to install and manage, but it is a strong product nonetheless
Sophos NAC Advanced is a software-based access control and compliance platform. Administrators can configure and roll out policies based on users and groups in Microsoft Active Directory, as well as handle guest access with the use of a dissolvable Java-based agent. It can use DHCP, 802.1X, Cisco NAC and VPN policies to provide complete coverage of network devices and clients.
Installation and configuration are a little tricky, as it is software-based and has certain pre-installation requirements. The software can be installed on a Windows Server 2003 box that is running IIS for the web server component. Installation is guided by a setup wizard and it will help in installing the necessary components. However, once the product is installed, it is not very intuitive to configure and get running. We found the web-based GUI management interface to be simple to navigate but not intuitive to use.
Also not intuitive was policy configuration. The software comes with a small amount of base policies that provide some initial requirements, but we had some trouble configuring our own policies. We did find that once we became more acquainted with the system it did have a lot of functionality and flexibility, especially with the various enforcement mechanisms.
Documentation for this Sophos product is available as several downloadable PDFs on the support website.
There are installation and configuration guides for all the various parts of the NAC Advanced platform. These guides were easy to read, with many step-by-step instructions, but we would have liked to see them better organised and even consolidated.
Sophos includes 24/7 phone, email and web-based support in the subscription price of the software. This covers access to an online support area with many resources, such as product documentation, a knowledgebase, downloads and updates.
With a price just over £15 per user per year for 500 users, this product may seem pricey at first, but we find it to be good value for the money. It includes full technical support as well as product upgrades, which add to its overall value.