Aventail EX-1500

A dream for end users, a headache for security managers.

Summary of Clear Choice Test of Aventail's EX-1500.

Data sheet for Aventail EX-1500
Starting price: $10,000
Overall score: 3.6

As one of the early SSL VPN vendors, Aventail brings heavy experience into the world of SSL VPN grounded in both its long-standing appliance product line, as well as its years of operating of a managed security service.

The most recent result of this expertise is the EX-1500, which offers a great end user experience (see portal testing results), but at the expense of the network manager who has to configure and operate the system (see manageability testing results). Perhaps it's the physical proximity to Microsoft (both headquartered in the Seattle area), but Aventail's design team has built a management interface and corresponding myriad of disparately named tools that is far more complex and baroque than the product's actual capabilities. If you're not caught up in realms, resources, methods, zones, communities, profiles and the difference between Network tunnel service vs. Network proxy service, you might forget that ASAP WorkPlace is really the portal, ASAP Management Console is the management GUI, Aventail OnDemand is the port forwarder, Aventail Connect is the client and Network Explorer means file servers.

Once the security manager gets a good enough handle on the barrage of terminology to tune into the product's feature set, which includes the ability to dynamically and automatically adjust user access methods based on their client capabilities and characteristics (see end-point security testing results), the end user will be ecstatic, or at least pretty happy.

Aventail has pushed hard to break resources, such as Web pages and terminal servers, away from access methods, which means that once you describe what someone is allowed to do, you don't have to be as concerned about how they do it, because the EX-1500 does the rest (see results of policy tests). In an all-Windows world, especially with managed laptops, the result is smooth and painless to the end users, offering greater connectivity when possible, and undiagnosable failure when something goes wrong.

Overall, Aventail deserves a prize for "Best Out of the Box Experience" for its users and a smack to the head for its management system.

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Copyright © 2005 IDG Communications, Inc.