WatchGuard Takes Security to the Edge

By Lauren Simonds | Posted June 26, 2006

It's not easy for small businesses to keep data networks secure. They face the same threats big enterprises do, but they often lack the resources to take on the complex task. That's why network security appliances can be a good alternative — they provide a raft of security services in one box that connects to your network.

WatchGuard, maker of the Firebox X Edge, offers a new line of appliances aimed at SMBs and companies with remote or branch offices: the Firebox X Edge e-Series. According to Steve Wampler, Watchguard's senior product manager, the new appliances build on the X series and offer new hardware across the product line, advanced networking, quality of service (QoS) support and compliance with European Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) requirements.

Wampler says the e-Series appliances support a number of advanced networking capabilities including the following:

NAT: This feature lets the e-Series appliances support multiple IP addresses. That means the appliance can take incoming network traffic and then route it to multiple internal servers, each with their own internal IP address. "This feature helps protect your company PCs from Internet threats, and it gives you control and flexibility about how you route your network traffic," said Wampler.

He also said the NAT capability lets you grant controlled access to vendors, customers or suppliers without letting them see or access the rest of your company network.

QoS: This feature lets you decide which of your Internet-based applications receive priority over the network. For example, if you have a VoIP phone system, you'd want VoIP traffic to go through first before say, downloading e-mail in order to avoid degradation in the sound quality. If you're a retailer, you might want to prioritize point-of-sale traffic over e-mail.

Wampler notes that you can pre-determine the amount of bandwidth you allocate to each application. "What's different about the e-Series, " he said, "is that you can manage the bandwidth. Any bandwidth that's not currently in use moves over to assist with other types of network traffic. If the phones aren't in use, the bandwidth moves to speed up e-mail traffic until the phone become active again."


Firebox X Edge e-Series
The Firebox X Edge e-Series is designed to make network security easier and more flexible for small businesses and remote or branch offices.

WatchGuard System Manager: Available on the Core and Peak versions, the software is designed to centrally manage VPNs, distribute policy and firmware updates and configure multiple Firebox X Edge appliances. Wampler said the software also lets you set unified security policies across the entire network and create branch or remote office VPN tunnels in three steps.

RoHS: The Restriction of Hazardous Substances is an environmental requirement now in effect in Europe. Wampler said the e-Series meets those requirements, making it a greener, more environmentally friendly product.

The e-Series includes content filtering and supports 100 Mbps firewall and 35 Mbps VPN — the price range is based on the number of users each appliance can support. Pricing for the wired Firebox X Edge starts at $480 while the starting price for the wireless Firebox X Edge is $580.

Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of SmallBusinessComputing.com

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