SonicWALL is a company that really has a sweet spot for addressing mid-market organizations (especially in Canada where mid-market tends to fall to the smaller end of the employee spectrum), but also doesn’t compromise in quality. In fact, their smallest appliances contain the same functionality and management capabilities as their largest, (and well named) SuperMassive devices. But a lot of enterprises simply write-off SonicWALL because they’ve done a good job at playing in the mid-market and so there is a natural bias to think that they don’t have enterprise-worthy security solutions. The problem is, SonicWALL doesn’t just HAVE enterprise-class security solutions, but they’re built into every single box they sell, from the smallest to the largest. Oh, and they also have some pretty sweet virtualized appliances.
Last year, SonicWALL released their Secure Remote Access Virtual Appliance geared towards the mid-market and the Aventail E-Class SRA Virtual Appliance (which is the enterprise version of this solution) to help address the need for organizations looking to secure a more distributed workforce. SonicWALL already has a great virtual appliance solution which addresses e-mail security, management and reporting, but now addresses the need for SSL VPN solutions which are scalable and reliable, but don’t suffer from sticker shock.
Virtual appliances aren’t new, but there is still a hesitation to adopt them despite the cost-savings and management flexibility. But transitioning from traditional appliances to virtual ones is absolutely necessary if you want to stay efficient since it allows you to not just drive down costs, but scale your capacities as needed. This is very important when you have to adapt to new business practices such as the surge of mobile devices and remote employees and yet be able to enforce corporate access policies and maintain overall security posture.
For example, enterprises and mid-market organizations that leverage a virtualized SSL VPN solution can provide the right access levels to network resources defined by policies. Once purchased, a virtual machine can apply these policies in a manner that requires no dedicated hardware (such as rack space, etc), and can be managed from any network connection point. It can also be migrated to another server if maintenance or load balancing is required.
The Secure Remote Access Virtual Appliance contains a lot of the same features as the SSL VPN hardware offered by SonicWALL, such as the ability to deploy and manage a single secure access gateway that extends remote access through SSL VPN to all network resources such as web-based, client/server, host-based and back-connect applications such as VOIP. But it can also be extended to control access to resources from various devices such as laptops, home PCs, smartphones, tablets and public kiosks. The best thing though is that it doesn’t require ANY pre-installed client software, and because it’s virtualized, performance is optimized through increased resource efficiency and thus lowering costs.
It’s also a great way for smaller organizations who don’t have huge IT resources or capital to create a secure network environment. I’ve always been a fan of vendors who don’t penalize smaller organizations who cannot afford large-ticket security offerings. As I said earlier, regardless if you go with the smallest or the largest platform from SonicWALL, it carries the same functionality. With virtual appliances, you now can extend the flexibility to cloud-based security offerings which is where we need to see more vendors start investing in.