Demand for all-in-one security appliances in the small business sector has been growing significantly over the past year as these products aim to provide a simple plug-and-go solution that requires the minimum of IT expertise to use. ZyXEL makes a move into this territory with its latest ZyWALL family which it coins unified threat management (UTM) firewall/VPN appliances.
The ZyWALL 5 on review is the entry point of this new range and offers the complete gamut of security services starting with standard NAT/SPI firewalling and support for up to ten IPSec VPN tunnels. There’s much more on offer as you can implement IDP (intrusion detection and prevention), anti-virus and anti-spam measures, as well as full web content filtering. ZyXEL also offers a pricing structure that allows you to pick and choose which components to want to install. However, there are a few provisos that you need to be aware of which we’ll discuss further on.
The ZyWALL 5 is a solid little steel box which comes equipped with a 266MHz Intel IXP422 network processor and 32MB of SDRAM memory. Four switched Fast Ethernet ports are provided for LAN connections and the single Ethernet WAN port can be used to connect to an existing gateway or an ADSL or cable modem with an Ethernet interface. Any of the LAN ports can be designated for DMZ duties if required.
Two serial ports at the rear offer local access to the CLI (command line interface) and a dial-up failover modem connection. There’s also a PC Card slot alongside and it’s this that makes the ZyWALL 5 unique as it accepts the optional ZyWALL Turbo Card. It might look like a wireless PC Card but it actually provides hardware acceleration for the IDP and anti-virus services. It’s here that you need to make a big decision as the slot also accepts a wireless card. However, without the Turbo Card you can’t use the anti-virus and IDP features, both of which will be automatically disabled if it isn’t installed.
General installation on our test network was a brief affair and for Internet access we used an intelligent ActionTec R4500U ADSL modem which worked fine with the ZyWALL 5. The web interface is simple enough to use and opens with a basic status report on the system and interfaces and offers a couple of wizards for setting up Internet access and creating VPN tunnels. The appliance needs to be registered with ZyWALL after which you can download trials of the anti-virus, IDP, anti-spam and content filtering services. Unfortunately, ZyXEL has been very good at going off half-cocked with some of its latest product launches as at the time of review the anti-spam service wasn’t available due to a minor bug so the updates for this won’t be ready until November.