3 min read

Astaro 420: 'Hard' Security Made Simple

A company that got its start building hardened Linux distros has evolved into one of the standout security appliance makers in an increasingly crowded technology market.
With dozens, if not hundreds, of players in the security appliance market, it is becoming more difficult for solution providers to pick an applicable device for their customers.

Further complicating the issue is the intense need for smaller companies to bring enterprise-level security into their networks at an affordable price. Then there’s the issue of channel support: Solution providers need a profitable, channel-friendly product from a vendor that offers remote-management capabilities and extensive support options.

Burlington, Mass.-based Astaro has taken all those concerns to heart with its Astaro Security Gateway 420, an integrated security appliance built on a secure distribution of Linux. While this approach may not sound all that different from the typical security appliance, the Security Gateway 420 boasts some unique features. First, the appliance uses Astaro’s own secure interpretation of the open-source Linux kernel. Astaro got its start by creating a hardened version of Linux for firewall and security purposes, aptly named Astaro Security Linux. The company has applied that knowledge to an Intel-based hardware platform to create the Security Gateway line.

The combination of open-source software and an Intel platform means the products can be easily maintained and upgraded. The entry-level Security Gateway 110 offers protection for 10 users at just $695, while the Security Gateway 420 considered here, priced at $8,995, is meant for large deployments. Partners enjoy product margins ranging from 20 percent to 40 percent, depending upon their partnership level.

The Security Gateway 420 offers all the expected features, including a stateful inspection firewall, VPN gateway, spam protection, virus protection, surf protection and intrusion protection. But beyond that, it provides SNMP support, syslog support, event/activity reporting, log storage and query tools, DHCP server, network-traffic accounting, portscan detection, DOS protection and a SIP/VoIP proxy service.

The key to successfully integrating all these features is found in the unit’s management capabilities. The appliance’s browser-based WebAdmin console offers elegant simplicity, yet readily exposes features via a convenient drill-down interface. Wizards exist to quickly deploy associated features, while a robust help system paces administrators through the more intricate security processes. The WebAdmin console is part of Astaro’s unified management paradigm, where all reporting, updating and management functionality is powered by a single console, further easing use of the system.

Hardware-wise, the entry-level Security Gateway 110 can handle 80 Mbps of traffic and sports three 10/100 interfaces, while the high-end edition boasts throughput of 1 Gbps and eight 10/100/1000 Ethernet interfaces.

Prospective partners will be even more impressed with the company’s channel programs. Astaro sells more than 90 percent of its products through its roughly 300 solution provider partners. Authorized partners have an annual minimum sales requirement of $2,500; premier partners focus on enterprise accounts and have a yearly sales goal of $200,000; preferred partners have a sales commitment of $50,000; and certified partners have access to a dedicated Web portal, beta-testing programs, MDF funds and other marketing support. Astaro also offers free training and certification, promotional spifs, lead generation and free demo units.

Integrators that want to sell unified security need look no further than Astaro’s offerings, which combine robust technology with outstanding channel opportunities.