SonicWall NSA Review

A rugged solution capable of defeating advanced threats

What is our primary use case?

I am a consultant. I work with a software dealer in the IT security business.

I deployed SonicWall for a customer just last month.

What is most valuable?

It's very simple to use and the support is great. I am in India and they have a support office here. As a company product, SonicWall firewalls and their support has been excellent.

It's a simple, rugged product. When I say rugged, mechanically, it's a very rugged box. The same thing applies to Sophos also, it's also a very rugged box. It's rugged technology, it can take a beating and still be operational. 

One of the greatest strengths of the SonicWall system is that they have multiple portals for multiple tasks, whereas all the other solutions have no single tool for doing multiple tasks. That has been one major advantage of SonicWall. Regarding the SonicWall box, you need to be capable of taking multiple loads compared to the competition. That's a very unique feature of the SonicWall system. They also have an antivirus solution that is tied to their system which is called SentinelOne.

The support is very good. The product is also very reliable. There are always new, frequent updates — nothing more or less. It's very flexible; it's ready to go right out of the box, unlike some other solutions which require a lot of training. The GUI is very user-friendly. Even if you've never touched a firewall in your life, with a bit of time and practice, you'll get the hang of it.

What needs improvement?

In terms of improvement, they should consider changing the logic of how the rules are created. Everything is spread out into multiple pockets, so to speak; it should be more condensed. The technology is sound; I am not saying that it's brilliant, but it is very sound for most mid-range uses — it does a fantastic job.

They should consider upgrading the capabilities within the GUI. The way the GUI is configured for creating rules, I would say they should consider making that a bit more flexible. That would really help a lot.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have used SonicWall NSA for three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

SonicWall NSA is very stable. I ran my last box for 10 years before I switched it off. 10 years is a long time for anything. If it can run for 10 years, it's stable. It's money made twice over. It might not be technologically up to speed and it may not be upgradeable, but that's a different matter.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

These boxes are well-known for the amount of mechanics and users they can handle.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is very easy.

The basic setup takes roughly half an hour. After that, when it comes to configuring the rules and dependencies, with ideal conditions, I would say that it takes roughly a week. Overall, within two to three weeks, we were in production.

Roughly 90% (50% in the worst-case scenario) of the customer's settings are ready within a couple of days from the time the box is powered up. When you power up the box, you have to set the rules. So, I implement it, engage the rules, and then ask somebody to test some of the connections and give me some feedback. That takes a bit of time, but otherwise, it only takes a couple of days until the box is ready. If you want to push it, within a week it's possible to reach roughly 90% to 95% production — the rules and the performance have to be fine-tuned which takes a little bit of time.

What other advice do I have?

 I would definitely recommend SonicWall for their simplicity of use, but if you can configure SonicWall, have a look at Sophos also. Sophos has put a lot of hard work into their connections and the GUI. SonicWall's GUI is slightly lacking compared to Sophos' GUI; however, capabilities-wise, Sophos doesn't have a lead over SonicWall.

If I had to make a recommendation to a customer, I would tell them to look at both products. I would push the Sophos box because it has certain advantages, technologically, compared to SonicWall. For example, they have their own antivirus solution — the Sophos antivirus solution. It's a firewall as well and the tool will communicate with the central cloud. From the cloud instance, you can control the system.

The Sophos gateway has got allied products, like SD run connectors. You can manage the same rules between multiple firewalls because they're all connected to the same account. Overall, Sophos is superior to SonicWall.

The first requirement of a paying customer, independent of their choice of product, is to check if the technical support of the product is locally available. That's the first requirement I would give to any customer. The product may be great but if the support in your geographical region is not there, then it's not worth it.

Take Trend Micro for example. If you're a customer of Trend Micro but you're not in the immediate support region, then what happens? You will have to raise a ticket and wait, but you don't have anybody on the ground to come to your office and do an emergency scan and raise your ticket, so it's a bit of a dangerous issue. I would recommend a product that has both local technical and physical support.

On a scale from one to ten, I would give SonicWall a rating of eight.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

**Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
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