WatchGuard Firebox Peak X5500e firewall
WatchGuard Firebox: Fiery performer at a nice price
- Client/server-based management system allows true offline editing of configuration, high throughput even when handling attacks, can turn on additional in-the-box features through licensing
- Blocked only a third of the attacks in our test, complex user interface, desperately needs wizards for common setup tasks (public server, VPN), must be online for initial setup, to download updates and user interface
WatchGuard Firebox Peak X5500e isn't easy to set up, but its use of XML configuration files works wonders for managing configuration across any number of devices and locations. Apart from complex initial configuration, this is a highly manageable, enterprise-grade, proxy-based firewall with impressive throughput, granular control, and an excellent price.
Price$ 5,990.00 (AUD)
Best Deals (Selling at 3 stores)
When we first began working with the Firebox, we got very frustrated with all of the reboots we had to suffer through while making what we considered minor changes (IP, subnet mask, and so on). But that's because we didn't yet understand WatchGuard's client-server attitude toward configuration. Clearly enterprise in nature, the thick configuration utility wants you to check your configuration changes before you commit them. It's not a handy Web utility that could accidentally paint you into a corner. It wants you to make your changes as a single update so that individual changes can be considered before you hit the return key.
With the Firebox, you could easily have an entire lab configuration (sandbox) to do some initial testing, then pre-edit the changes necessary to drop the config into production. By the same token, you could remove a troubled unit from production and flip it into a lab setting to confirm or deny problems. WatchGuard allows you to save configuration files and swap between them really easily, regardless of whether you're touching the original serial number that the configuration was built on.
WatchGuard's client server approach started us thinking about how well the Firebox line fits regardless of your company size. From the SMB-oriented single console to a team approach with undocked windows spread across the front wall of a NOC, you could find a version of WatchGuard's hardware and combination of software that should fit your needs. This is a stratified product line with software upgrades within the hardware platform allowing you to fit the cost of the unit to your immediate needs but still permitting an easy upgrade path. From smaller Edge units to the Core SMB units all the way to the larger Peak units, the Firebox product line has granular layers allowing a much closer fit to individual company needs. The same stratification can work just as well within a highly distributed enterprise; with varying levels of authority, I could easily see firewall management becoming a team sport.
GUI or CLI?
While we were, in general, impressed by the WatchGuard, it wasn't perfect. The most significant hassle, though, came from the manufacturer's packaging rather than the basic system design; there was no software at all on the CD-ROM, nor were you able to download it from the Firebox's console. You must be able to download it from the WatchGuard site, and the first setup must be on an Internet-connected link since the system wants to do "activation." We asked about this and got the impression from WatchGuard that there is a way around this if you're using it on an isolated network, but that way is not covered in the startup guide (nor is it freely offered by the company's technical support).
Once we got past WatchGuard's system maintenance window and were able to download the Firebox Manager, it wasn't too bad to get through the initial setup. We were advised, though, to not use both the GUI and the CLI since the configs are stored differently. We were told to use one or the other -- a shame since, on so many systems, the GUI is perfect for simple configuration touch-ups while the CLI is there for the heavy lifting. For initial setup, we used the front-panel buttons to give the Firebox an IP address, then connected using the Firebox Manager. You can also do it using the included serial cable to avoid the pain of countless arrow pushes to change the IP address.
Even with the extensive testing (accompanied by the necessary extensive configuration and management that goes with spending weeks on a device's console), we weren't able to work with every single feature on each system. The supercool feature that we couldn't try out on the WatchGuard was the drag-and-drop VPN setup. As long as the console is able to get an encrypted link to both firewalls, you can do a drag and drop from the branch office to the home office for VPN setup.
Speed to burn
With a proxy-oriented architecture such as the Firebox's, you expect to take a hit in absolute packet-passing performance. Typically what you lose in throughput you gain in security, thanks to the proxy's ability to obscure the details of the devices inside the network from the outside world, making it nearly impossible for external devices to connect to them directly. So we were surprised to discover that the Firebox was the fastest UTM in our test -- faster even than the SonicWall, which costs three times as much.
Join the PC World newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Huawei P9 review: lifting photography to another level... sometimes.
- 2 Sony Xperia Z5 Premium review: Is the world ready for a 4K phone?
- 3 D-Link Taipan AC3200 Ultra tri-band modem-router review
- 4 Dell XPS 13 (2016) review: Making the very best Ultrabook
- 5 Microsoft Surface Book review: The verdict on Microsoft's first notebook
Best Deals on PC World
Latest News Articles
- Apple to replace defective USB-C cables that shipped with some 12-inch MacBooks
- Like Chromebooks, thumb-size PCs will bloom
- Apple's Q1: Record $US18.4 billion profit, but iPhone sales are slowing
- Chromebooks are siphoning market share from Windows PCs
- Microsoft beefs up its Surface Book and Surface Pro 4
GGG Evaluation Team
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.
The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.
My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.
- CCProject ManagerNSW
- FTTechnical Lead | Senior Java DeveloperNSW
- CCProgram Controls ManagerACT
- CCSenior Developer - AWS Cloud HSMNSW
- CCContract Analyst Programmer (J2EE/JAVA/Oracle) 160617/AP/025Asia
- CCRelease & Configuration Manager | Defence intelligence application | NV1 clearedACT
- FTFront End .Net Developer (.Net / Angular / Bootstrap)NSW
- FTTechnical Consultant - ServerSA
- FTSoftware Services Team LeaderNSW
- CCSecurity Solution ArchitectQLD
- CCAnalyst Programmer - C# FocusNSW
- FTBusiness Analyst - Clinical SystemsSA
- CCSales Specialist - DigitalNSW
- CCApplication Support Analyst and Database AdministratorVIC
- CCTibco DeveloperWA
- CCTechnology and Security ArchitectACT
- FTProject ManagerACT
- CCContract Systems Analyst (Linux/MySQL/Oracle) 160630/SA/254Asia
- CCProgram Test ManagerNSW
- CCIT Technical Writer- understanding in RDMBS,Web server, StorageNSW
- CCContract Analyst Programmer (JAVA/SQL) 160617/AP/623Asia
- CCDigital Business AnalystVIC
- CCIntegration ArchitectACT
- FTInfrastructure/Solution ArchitectNSW
- CCSAP Portal DeveloperVIC