The Express Way to Device Management

By Cameron Sturdevant  |  Posted 2001-12-03

The Express Way to Device Management

Configuring security devices is one of the most basic and time-consuming aspects of setting up a protection perimeter around IT assets. Organizations that rely on NetScreen Technologies Inc.s hardware, including firewalls and IDSes, should check out versions 3.0 of Global Pro Express and Global Pro.

In eWeek Labs tests, Global Pro Express reduced the time needed to configure our NetScreen devices from hours to minutes, while virtually wiping out the chance that configuration errors would leave a security exposure. Version 3.0 also includes enhancements for the real-time monitor component that allowed us to view performance statistics for groups of NetScreen devices and VPNs (virtual private networks).

The biggest drawbacks of Global Pro Express and Global Pro (Global Pro Express Internet service provider-oriented sibling based on the same code) are their high prices and NetScreen-only focus. Global Pro Express starts at $5,995 for 25 devices and ranges to $14,995 for 100. Global Pro, which includes reporting features, starts at $19,995 for 100 devices and up to $49,995 for 1,000. Both products are expected to ship this week.

Global Pro isnt unique in the security space—Cisco Systems Inc. offers Cisco Secure Policy Manager, which does the same thing for the companys hardware. Check Point Software Technologies Ltd.s Provider-1 performs similar tasks and can also interact with OPSEC (Open Platform for Security)-compliant products.

In tests, Global Pro 3.0 showed that it has caught up with these other vendors in one very important capability. For the first time, we could define a security policy and then distribute the policy to any number of NetScreen devices.

Security in a Box

Security in a Box

Global Pro is a turnkey product that comes on a Sun Microsystems Inc. Netra box with the NetScreen Global Pro software already installed. The device is tamper-resistant, and all unneeded services are turned off, making it a reasonably secure platform from which to configure the firewalls and IDS (intrusion detection system) boxes in the network.

Experienced NetScreen users will have little trouble setting up the device. A professional services group at the company is available, and we recommend that new users of NetScreen products take advantage of these services to ensure that the policies created actually accomplish the desired security tasks.

The completely redesigned Java-based GUI (see screen, Page 67) makes it easy to step through the policy- creation process. The slick user interface is just that, however. Although it was easy to create policies, there is no substitute for old-fashioned, paper-and-pencil planning to figure out general security guidelines.

Global Pro made it very simple for us to make security policies and set up VPNs. Version 3.0s new ability to create groups of users and devices to which policies could be applied really helped this process.

The policy builder is really an ultra-fancy condition builder customized to match the capabilities of NetScreen security products. The policy builder covers all aspects of security operations including access filters, certificate authority locations and certificate revocation lists.

Global Pro cuts device configuration time while ensuring that the same policies are applied to all devices and users. It was no problem to assign additional policies, for example, to limit the authority of NetScreen administrators to a small group of devices, then add this policy to particular users.

We used the real-time performance module to observe the activity of NetScreen devices grouped by device type or VPN. The new performance views should make it easier for IT managers to get a sense of network usage and potential security trouble spots by highlighting unusual or bottlenecked traffic.

Senior Analyst Cameron Sturdevant is at

Global Pro Express 3


Global Pro Express 3.0


NetScreens updated Global Pro Express makes it easy to create and distribute policies governing network security, including the creation of VPNs for NetScreen devices.

SHORT-TERM BUSINESS IMPACT // Experienced NetScreen users should be able to get up and running in a matter of hours, but administrators should take time to sketch a network diagram with at least some rudimentary access rules to guide the policy creation process.

LONG-TERM BUSINESS IMPACT // Global Pro Express 3.0 should reduce the costs of maintaining security policies over the long term because rule templates can be reused.

PROS: Policies can be assigned to groups of users and devices; VPNs are created quickly and accurately; performance statistics for groups of devices are easy to view.

CONS: Works only with NetScreen devices; high price crimps return on investment.

NetScreen Technologies Inc., Sunnyvale, Calif.; (800) 638-8296;

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