SonicWall adds speed, drops prices

SonicWall Inc. on Dec. 10 announced it is boosting the processing power of most of its VPN gear, significantly increasing their encryption speed. At the same time, the company said it is lowering the prices of some of its equipment and is adding new features to its Global Management System software.

These latest moves are all attempts by SonicWall to become more appealing to large enterprise customers, says Matthew Kovar, an analyst with the Yankee Group Inc.

The added processing muscle is by virtue of a new SonicWall-designed ASIC called CyberSentry, which replaces encryption processors the company used to buy from Hi/fn. With the CyberSentry ASICs, SonicWall’s slowest box, the Tele3, boosted its Triple-DES encryption throughput from 2Mbps to 20Mbps. By comparison, rival NetScreen’s low-end 5XP, which was designed around its own ASIC, offers just half the Triple-DES encryption throughput at 10Mbps. The two boxes, however, cost the same. Both are priced at US$495.

The 20Mbps throughput may be overkill for home office users but that is not a worry, says Ruben Rabago, National Director of Technical Services for SCINET, a medical applications provider based in Scottsdale, Ariz. “If for whatever bizarre reason I find the need for 20Mbps throughput for five users, I have some assurance that I won’t have to invest in a US$5,000 to US$20,000 piece of equipment,” Rabago says.

With the addition of its new processors, SonicWall is also changing the names of its products. The Tele2 becomes the Tele3 (US$495); SOHO2 becomes SOHO3 (US$990); XPRS2 becomes PRO100 (US$1,795); PRO becomes PRO200 (US$2,995); and PRO VX becomes PRO300 (US$3,995). All are available now.

SonicWall also announced professional training services for its customers. The company will send a technician to a customer site for two days to train users and get their gear up and running. Also, the company is adding enhanced training for larger customers with more complex networks.

Additionally, the company issued a new version of its SSL accelerator card software that enables the cards to handle more SSL sessions than before. The new software caches information about sessions that are still active but that are passing no data at the moment. This caching increases to 5,000 the number of concurrent SSL sessions the hardware supports. Caching also keeps processing and memory free to handle up to 75,000 sessions, a 30-fold increase.

The latest release of SonicWall Global Management System software gives users a view of the entire VPN as well as high-level reporting on network performance. It also provides a tabular view of firewall activity and supports anti-virus installations at up to 1,000 nodes.

“SonicWall has really grown up in the last year or so in terms of its management features, but that platform is still largely untested,” Kovar says.

SonicWall can be reached at