Forum Systems: Product Overview and Insight

Forum Sentry API Security Gateway enables enterprises and government organizations to create code-free APIs that secure access to complex enterprise applications.

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Company Name: Forum Systems (API security)

Company description:  Founded in 2003, Forum Systems is a privately held company headquartered in Needham, Mass.

For more than 15 years, Forum Systems has been the security foundation in global network architectures, processing and securing 10+ billion transactions per day for U.S. federal agencies and foreign governments/agencies, as well as global enterprises in the financial services, energy, telecommunications, healthcare, and transportation industries. The company provides API security gateway technology that enables these organizations to manage complex API strategies in an efficient, agile, highly secure manner.

CEO Mamoon Yunus is a visionary in API, cloud, and XML-based technologies. As founder of Forum Systems, Mamoon pioneered XML security gateways and firewalls and holds the only granted patent for XML network appliances. Since Forum Systems’ inception, he has spearheaded the direction and strategy for eight generations of award-winning API, SOA, and XML security products.

Prior to Forum Systems, Yunus was a Global Systems Engineer for webMethods (acquired by Software AG), where he developed XML-based business integration and architecture plans for companies such as GE, Pepsi, Siemens and Mass Mutual. He also has held various high-level executive positions at Informix (acquired by IBM) and Cambridge Technology Group.

Markets:  Forum Systems’ key markets include North America, Europe, and APAC.

International Operations:  Needham, Mass.; Vaughan, Ontario, Canada; Winsford, U.K.; Utrecht, The Netherlands; Rome; and Taipei.

Product and Services: Providing centralized security, identity, and integration for API communications, the Forum Sentry API Security Gateway enables enterprises and government organizations to create code-free APIs that secure access to complex enterprise applications. Architected on “security-first” design principles, Forum Sentry provides comprehensive protection against modern API vulnerabilities, and is the industry’s only FIPS 140-2 Level 2 and NIAP Network Device Protection Profile certified API security gateway for enabling secure connectivity between users, applications, and the cloud.

Key Products:

Secure PEP (Policy Enforcement Point), SSO (Single Sign-on) and Federation:

  • Cybersecure identity policy enforcement point (PEP) with built-in SSO and Federation
  • Combines identity with payload attributes for multicontext and multifactor authentication
  • Built-in support for all modern IdM systems, PKI, and identity formats

API Security:

  • Build logical APIs with protocol break, deep content inspection, and bidirectional information assurance
  • Modern information security combining content-aware cybersecurity intrusion, data leakage protection, antivirus, access control, and PKI cryptography
  • SLA enforcement with real-time monitoring and alerting

Cloud Integration:

  • Point-and-click policies for REST APIs, SOAP APIs, and REST/SOAP conversion
  • Supports B2B, cloud, mobile, and IoT technology formats
  • Translates protocols and messages for legacy systems modernization

Insight and Analysis: The Forum Sentry API gateway enables code-free, point-and-click building of APIs to integrate legacy and modern systems, connect cloud and mobile technologies, and extend business applications and services securely beyond the enterprise border.

Pros: The Forum Systems Sentry API Gateway is a comprehensive application security appliance that allows users to set up robust security over a variety of different protocols and data formats. It was one of the first FIPS-certified API gateways, and everything about the system was designed with security in mind. It is available in a variety of formats. Sentry is also available as a virtual machine or as a regular software installer that can be deployed on Windows and Linux. Because of all these options, Sentry can be scaled to fit in any environment. It is also unique in the sense that it sits in-line and functions as a layer 4-7 device. This allows it to maintain maximum security by getting a complete sense of everything flowing through the network.

When we removed Sentry from the box, we were surprised to see that it does not come with a VGA port. Instead, it comes with a console cable and serial port. Sentry comes this way to enhance security: By communicating through a serial port, Sentry can completely lock down access to the kernel to make it tamper proof. After we connected it, opened our terminal emulator and powered on the device, Sentry came to life. We were greeted with a ASCII setup utility where we configured the parameters for the management interface, as well as the appliance's hardware security device.

The support that Forum Systems provides is a major talking point. In addition to standard nine-hours-a-day/five-days-a-week support, Forum offers premium assistance that dedicates a support person to your deployment. You are given their direct contact information, and they are available 24/7/365. They are system engineers as well as support people and will come on site to assist with all aid throughout the product lifetime. Premium support also includes free hardware replacement-- a big plus, since many of these systems are never powered off until they are decommissioned. Premium support is 20 percent of purchase price while standard assistance is 15 percent. Both levels include phone and email help as well as access to Forum's web helpdesk. 

Con: Expensive for most companies at $70,000 (support not included) for an initial installation.

However, the Sentry is an excellent value for the price. Even though it carries a heavy price tag--starting at $70,000 plus support-- it is unmatched among its competitors. Forum Systems hit a home run with this product, and one should definitely consider this when looking for an API gateway. This product is definitely worthy of its recommended designation. –Peter Stephenson, SC Magazine

List of current customers: Network Rail, WellCare, Vodafone, AAMC, DISA, FAA, Synchrony Financial, HM Government, UK Department for Work & Pensions, KCP&L, Belden, OmegaFi and Synovus Financial.

Delivery: Forum Sentry is available as a FIPS 140-2 Level 2 hardware appliance, a VMware virtual image, or as software for Linux, Solaris, or Windows. Additionally, Forum Sentry is now available in an Amazon Machine Image form factor, and features a REST API for rapid deployment in virtual, cloud, and containerized environments.

Pricing: Pricing for Forum Sentry starts at $70,000.

Other key players in this market:  Google Apigee, Axway, CA, IBM, Intel, MuleSoft

Contact information for potential customers: 

Resources:

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...