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Should I buy the Kerio Control Appliance or run the software version?


2012/10/17

At one time, Kerio only had a Windows version of its firewall product. I never liked that idea because Microsoft doesn't have the greatest record on security in general; it just didn't make sense to me to put your entire network at risk behind a Windows machine.

Certainly Microsoft has become better: Windows 7 is not generally insecure. However, because of popularity, Windows operating systems get attacked and breached more often than others. It is not that Macs and Linux are necessarily more secure (at times they have not been), but the brunt of the attacks are against Windows. I suppose that if you will religiously keep up with security patches, it may not be any more dangerous to run the Windows version than anything else, but that brings up another problem:

Patches can break things

Neither Kerio nor anyone else can anticipate what Microsoft might suddenly push out for a patch. Although rare, these patches can sometimes break third party applications. Worse, the breakage isn't always obvious - it may manifest in weird or flaky behavior rather than out right failure.

The situation is a little better on the Linux versions. It's not that Linux patches can't have unexpected side effects, but more that because Linux is open source, Kerio engineers can (in theory, at least) see potential problems more easily and work around them if necessary.

I'm still not a big fan, though.

Hardware

With any version other than the hardware appliances, you'll be providing the hardware. Obviously that hardware has a cost. It also has an operating cost, and if we are at the lower end for performance, the Kerio Control 1110 Appliance may have a significant advantage as it is rated at only 60 watts. It's going to be hard to find a desktop computer that doesn't draw more than that. It's not impossible, of course, but if you do, it may not have the horsepower of the 1110. I'm not saying that you cannot build a machine to match or even exceed the 1110 or the 3110, but you aren't going to do that at bargain basement prices.

So what's the cost of the hardware versions compared to using your own hardware? You just need to subtract the 5 user base license cost to see what you are paying for the hardware. Right now (October 2012), the base 5 user Kerio Control is $265.00. Subtract that from the $1,000.00 price of the 1110 and you have a $735.00 machine. That's a reasonable price for a decently capable computer.

Of course the 1110 also includes Sophos and the Web filter, so really we should subtract $310.00, netting out at $690.00 (or $1,390.00 for the 3110). That's NOT expensive hardware and the whole package is all supported by Kerio. There's no question at all about whether or not the hardware you chose will meet the specs Kerio publishes; they provided it and it will meet the promised performance.

Go ahead: price up comparable hardware. Don't forget that there are 4 Gigabit NIC's in the 1110 and 8 in the 3110, by the way. I'm not saying that you can't beat the price, but it will take some effort or compromise.

Overall, I think the boxes make more sense for most people. If you are a hardware guru type and have strong Windows or Linux skills, maybe you can do just as well or better with the software versions, but that's simply not most of us.



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