WatchGuard XTM 515 review

4 Feb 2013

Combines a heady blend of gateway security measures with excellent performance and a reasonable price

Price when reviewed: 
1,213(£1,213 inc VAT)
Buy it now for 
5

WatchGuard’s latest XTM 5 Series of security appliances aims to deliver enterprise-level performance at SMB prices. In this exclusive review, we look at the XTM 515, which has a high quoted throughput of 850Mbits/sec.

The appliance delivered the goods in our performance tests. Hooking up the 515 to the lab’s Ixia XM2 chassis and Xcellon-Ultra NP load modules, we created a test that simulated web clients on two Gigabit ports accessing web servers on two other Gigabit ports.

The IxLoad tool reported a top throughput of 860Mbits/sec, with all universal threat management (UTM) features switched on in the firewall policies. The appliance can be upgraded with a feature key to an XTM 525, which increases throughput to 1Gbit/sec.

WatchGuard XTM 515

The XTM 515 isn’t short of features either, and the price shown above is for the one-year Security Bundle. This includes WatchGuard’s LiveSecurity support plus IPS, web-content filtering, anti-spam, gateway antivirus, application controls, HTTPS inspection and WatchGuard’s “reputation enabled” defence. The latter uses an online server to flag up URLs with good reputations, so the box doesn’t have to scan every item of traffic.

Mixed-mode routing is the most flexible deployment method since it allows all the ports to be defined as separate interfaces. We opted for this and had the appliance up and running in minutes thanks to a wizard-based setup routine. It becomes trickier from here on in, however, as you need to configure application proxies for each of the security services. Even so, there’s a fine choice, and it includes HTTP, HTTPS, FTP, SIP, H.323, POP3 and SMTP.

After proxy configuration, actions are assigned. These include functions such as exceptions, alarms and logging requests. Firewall rules are then used to apply each proxy and its associated actions to selected network interfaces.

WatchGuard’s application awareness makes the XTM appliances stand out, since it allows admins to control Facebook and other social networking sites. It can be linked with Active Directory authentication, so you can fine-tune access on a per-user basis and decide who can log in, edit their profile, access webmail, view video, transfer files, play games or chat.

WatchGuard XTM 515

Web-content filtering requires a separate Windows system to host the WebBlocker URL category database, although we found a basic Windows 7 PC can run this happily. The same system will be needed to run the logging and reporting servers as well, but these also have a light footprint.

With WebBlocker there are 56 categories of URL that can be blocked, and we found very little sneaked past it. The Commtouch hosted anti-spam service is no lightweight, either: when tested previously, it delivered a detection score of 99% in our live tests.

Along with a performance boost over the older Series 5 XTM appliances, the latest WatchGuard Fireware 11.6.1 firmware adds new features. WebBlocker database updates are now fully automated, the web interface offers a handy policy checker service, and the appliance supports even more VPNs than before.

Larger businesses with branch offices can use WatchGuard’s System Manager tools for remotely managing multiple appliances. These now allow you to schedule feature key synchronisations, reboots and OS upgrades across groups of appliances.

High UTM performance usually comes with an equally high price, but the XTM 515 bucks the trend. It’s far better value than most competing products and offers a superb range of security measures.

Details

Price ex VAT £1,011

Ratings

Overall rating 6
Performance 5
Features & Design 6
Value for Money 6

Warranty

Warranty On-site years 3
Warranty extra information Next business day

Physical

Server format Rack
Server configuration 1U

Processor

Processor Intel Celeron E3400
CPU nominal frequency 2.60GHz

Storage

Hard disk configuration 1GB CompactFlash
Total hard disk capacity 1,024GB

Networking

Gigabit LAN ports 6
10/100 LAN ports 1

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