WatchGuard looks to protect branch offices

WatchGuard Technologies Inc. this week is wheeling out low-end IPSec VPN devices to securely network branch offices and remote users into corporate VPNs.

The Firebox 500, the new low-end device in the Firebox III product line, is intended for sites with 10 to 250 employees that use the VPN strictly for remote access. The box is placed on-site, and remote users connect to it securely over the Internet using WatchGuard client software on their PCs.

At US$1,790, the Firebox 500 is priced similarly to SonicWall Inc.'s SonicWall Pro 100 and Cisco Systems Inc.'s Cisco PIX 506E. Both companies are VPN/firewall competitors of WatchGuard, but until now WatchGuard had no device to compete directly against these models.

Firebox 500’s firewall throughput is 75M bit/sec. The company has not rated its VPN throughput, but says it is less than 5M bit/sec. These speeds are ample to protect as much traffic as three T-1 lines can support, the company says. The box also comes with antivirus software.

On the downside, the box lacks the ability to tie one device to another as backup should the primary box fail, an option that all other Firebox III devices have. The company says small sites have less need for this option and customers would be unwilling to pay for it. The box is available now and comes with a one-year subscription to content filtering updates.

Meanwhile the second new box, the V60L, is intended for sites with 50 to 100 employees that need to connect with other, multiple-user sites as opposed to being the hub for a remote-access VPN. This model was created to compete against the NetScreen 25 appliance. The Firebox V60L uses the same hardware as the company’s current V60 but with its performance throttled back for smaller sites. Rather than a 200M bit/sec firewall as the V60 has, the V60L’s firewall top speed is 100M bit/sec. And the V60L’s VPN performance at 50M bit/sec is half as fast as well.

By mid-year, WatchGuard will announce a program to upgrade Firebox V60Ls to Firebox V60s by purchasing a software key. Pricing has not been set.

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