Some of my readers and clients know that I used to sell Fortinet firewalls. I stopped doing that several years ago because I found their support (for both me and my customers) to be unacceptably poor. The products themselves worked well and were reasonably priced, but support was not good and because of lousy documentation, support was often needed.
I don't know if Fortinet has cleaned up their act since then. I don't care - once bitten, twice shy. I don't want anything to do with them.
I may have dropped Fortinet, but I still had customers with firewall needs. Where to turn? Cisco? No, I never liked Cisco because I think their stuff is too pricey in addition to often being confusing. Obviously they are the de facto standard, and I would expect large companies with complex needs to lean strongly toward their products, but I don't think they are a good choice for small businesses. You'll pay dearly for the Cisco brand but you won't get what the brand implies when you are at the low end. That's partly because Cisco can't cannibalize its more expensive products by adding features at the low end. The expense of Cisco training and certification also enters into the cost picture - I just don't see it for small business.
After dropping Fortinet, I've been referring most firewall inquiries elsewhere. In a few places I put in Multitiech routers - simple admin, limited but decent feature set, great support - but unfortunately Multitech has stopped producing these entirely. So what to do? Linksys? Please - that's as bad as Cisco or worse - in my opinion, of course, based on support problems I've seen. Fine if you need nothing but the basics, not so great otherwise.
Of course I do sell Kerio and Kerio does make their Winroute Firewall. I've sold a few of them here and there, but basically only when somebody twisted my arm. There were two things that prevented me from promoting this enthusiastically. One was that Winroute is software that needs to run inside another Operating System. That in itself presents some difficulties, but it's particular hard to get excited when the OS is Windows.
I mean seriously: hand a chicken a rifle and tell her to go guard the other hens? Please.
Kerio has recently changed a few things that warm me up quite a bit. First is that they have lowered the overall pricing. Second, you can now get this as a Linux appliance. It's a stripped down kernel just for running Winroute and of course can be installed on bare metal hardware - no Windows OS needed or wanted. That's good stuff!
They also have a packaged appliance version. This is really the most flexible product line you could hope for: a virtual appliance for quick trials or emergencies and a hardware firewall for easy deployment.
I'm going to be talking more about Winroute in future posts, but now that this is more palatable to me, let's talk quickly about the other things I like:
Simple, yet powerful
The administration of Winroute is much easier than any other high end firewall. I'd say it's as easy or easier than most home user appliances and Winroute has a lot more power (I'll get into specifics about that in another post).
Kerio's interface beats Fortinet and other mid-range products hands down - easier to understand, easier to use. This is particularly true when we get to more complex needs - and many of those needs aren't even offered by the other lower end products! Like Cisco, Fortinet and the other players have to protect their more expensive units - Kerio does not because Kerio is licensed by users, not product.
I'm not saying that every issue gets an immediate answer. But Kerio support is included with your subscription price and their attitude is to help - you never feel like you are interrupting something more important. It was Kerio's support of their mailserver product that sold me on becoming a dealer and that of course carries through to Winroute.
If you buy through me, you can also call me for support - no additional charge for that, either. I can do that for the same reason I can do it with Kerio Mailserver: there just is not much support needed after the initial setup!
Kerio's on-line manuals are among the best I've ever seen. When you combine that with their knowledgebase articles, many support questions are easily answered without calling anyone. That's important.
Note that Kerio has both Administrator and End-User manuals. I like that.
Unlike many low and medium end firewalls, Kerio comes equipped with full reporting accessed through your browser:
I'll be talking more about Winroute's features in other posts. If you want to jump ahead of me, you can download a fully functional demo for Windows or Linux. You can run that inside VMWare and they have it all ready for you: Kerio WinRoute Firewall VMware Virtual Appliance.
Feel free to contact me or Kerio support for questions and pricing.
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More Articles by Anthony Lawrence © 2011-07-07 Anthony Lawrence
Yeah, it's obsolete, clunky, insecure and broken, but people still use this stuff (Tony Lawrence)