SonicWall SRA 4600 Proves Easy to Set Up and Operate
Using the online registration and licensing system was not difficult. Having a central location to manage all your licenses is arguably a good thing, and more importantly, online registration, activation and licensing are becoming the standard with the majority of IT appliance vendors. With the basics out of the way, I was able to quickly set up the multiple services the device offers. The browser-based management console was easy to navigate. The console offers a primary status screen, which gives a dashboard-like view into the functionality of the device. At a glance, I was able to see the load on the device, alerts, ports in use and other critical bits of information on the dashboard. I was a little disappointed that the dashboard was not customizable and that I had to traverse multiple menus to drill down into other information. On the plus side, I found the management screens informative, once I drilled down into the elements on which I was trying to find information. Management controls are divvied up by categories, which helps ease navigation through the management GUI. For example, if you want to define and manage portals, simply click on the "Portal" menu element. The same goes for NetExtender, EndPoint Control, Secure Virtual Assistant, Secure Virtual Meeting, Web Application Firewall, High Availability, Users, Logs and Virtual Office. Each menu element leads to the management screen for its corresponding service.Life With the SRA 4600 With setup and basic deployment out of the way, the value of the SRA 4600 comes down to the services it can provide. That is where the device excels. Those services, which include remote access, BYOD mobility, wireless security, business continuity, Web application security, virtual meetings and remote support are combined in an easy-to-consume fashion—thanks to a design concept that leverages a portal approach. Administrators simply set up a portal for users to access that is easy to define and can accommodate multiple links displayed as menu choices from which the user can select. Behind the scenes, the links on the portal page tie into the features defined by the administrator. I was able to quickly set up portal items for remote control, launching applications and starting up support sessions. The SRA 4600 incorporates extensive security features, which can be integrated with other security applications on the network. For example, the SRA 4600 can be integrated with active directory to unify the log-on process and provide a single-sign-on experience. What's more, the device incorporates Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) VPN technology, as well as application security to create a fully secure remote-access environment. The SRA 4600 provides a multi-tiered approach to remote access. The device can be configured as a Web-only access system, which eliminates the need for agent installation and leverages application offloading, a service that can leverage ActiveSync. What's more, the Web-only methodology supports SharePoint, Intranet, webmail and other native applications, all without the need to install anything on the client PC. The device also provides Layer-3 tunnel access, which creates a physical connection between the remote client PC and the internal network using an agent installed on the remote PC. That style of connectivity provides a complete "in-office" experience and supports terminal services, Citrix, Web apps, remote access, Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) and so on.
That proves more important than one may first realize. By using a divide-and-conquer methodology, Dell has made it much easier to manage the only parts of the SRA 4600 that you will use. That is an important point, since most buyers will probably already have services in place similar to Secure Virtual Assistant and Secure Virtual Meeting.