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SonicWall UTM appliance targets SMBs, branch offices

SonicWall is aiming its new unified threat management appliance at midsized companies that need secure high-bandwidth application performance at remote sites.

A few months ago, SonicWall was all about expanding into the enterprise, pushing a unified threat management (UTM) appliance series for larger players and helping partners reach for bigger accounts.

But this week, SonicWall unveiled a UTM appliance for midsized customers with numerous branch offices or remote sites. It aims to give them the same security and application control available to enterprise customers.

SonicWall's customer core has always been the small and medium-sized business (SMB), but now execs and partners say there's a shift in that base. A growing number of SMBs are using a managed services or hosted approach to supplying high-bandwidth applications to remote sites, and therefore need the security and bandwidth prioritization that larger companies depend on.

"I've got these construction guys on remote sites. Some of these sites are using heavier applications, doing more with terminal services, looking for a more centralized application that will do all of their time-keeping for employees [for example]," said Trevor Henke, managed services manager at High Touch Technology Solutions, a SonicWall partner in Wichita, Kan. The NSA 240, he said, fits the bill.

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Unified threat management benefits for SMBs

SonicWall is banking on the belief that these smaller companies need a better UTM appliance, but not necessarily an expensive, high-end enterprise fix.

"A lot of SMBs are not looking for the best-of-breed product, but they are looking for one that will allow them to provide multiple levels of security intrusion prevention … and the ability to provide more application control," said Matthew Dieckman, SonicWall product manager.

So SonicWall's NSA 240 -- a unified threat management appliance combining firewall, antivirus and intrusion detection -- uses the company's deep packet inspection (DPI) engine to incorporate user identity access control, prevent data leakage, provide reporting and prioritize applications, while drawing away bandwidth from nonessential apps.

"It enables companies to utilize things like VoIP with a line of security along with a level of performance," Dieckman said. "We can look for threats against VoIP and also provide bandwidth controls to give VoIP traffic priority over standard data, and we are able to identify [nonessential] apps that consume a large amount of bandwidth and throttle those down."

The 240 falls at the low end of the NSA series, between SonicWall's E-Series for the enterprise and the TZ series for smaller companies. It includes a 600 Mbps firewall, 110 Mbps UTM inspection, as well as three copper gigabit Ethernet and six 10/100 FastEthernet interfaces. It also contains a high-speed 3G or modem card that provides continual network operation when hard-line connections are disrupted.

Henke said his engineers' "jaws dropped" when they saw the performance of the 240 as compared to the TZ series.

But SonicWall has its work cut out for it, since Juniper Networks, Cisco Systems, Fortinet and Check Point all field UTM appliances. And many of those companies say that midsized companies are spreading out and need to make higher-bandwidth applications securely available to more remote sites.

To educate the channel about the launch, SonicWall has set up a series of webinars for its distributors and gold and silver partners.

"From a technology standpoint, this should be easy for them," Dieckman said. "The underlying technology it uses is the same."

The NSA 240 starts at $1,195.

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