WatchGuard intros new VPN management software

WatchGuard Technologies Inc.’s management software can now quickly set up secure IP connections among WatchGuard Firebox VPN appliances as well as automatically update each box when network executives make changes to networks.

Calling these new features Instant VPN, WatchGuard says customers can set up VPN tunnels among devices in three steps: designating the Firebox appliances to be connected; selecting the security level for the link; and distributing the data to the Fireboxes, automatically configuring them to support the new connections. This relieves network managers from configuring remote Fireboxes one at a time.

“This lets you configure the network much more easily,” said Charles Kolodgy, a research manager at Framingham, Mass., market research firm International Data Corp. He said streamlining the process is particularly important to customers with limited IT staff.

The new management features are enabled by what WatchGuard calls its dynamic VPN control protocol (DVCP) server. The server software is loaded on a centrally located Firebox and is managed via WatchGuard’s new VPN Manager 2.0 software, which can be supported by Windows PCs.

When network administrators add new Fireboxes to their VPNs, for example, they can centrally designate which other Fireboxes they will be linked to and then push that data to already-installed Fireboxes as well as the new ones. The administrators are given the option to reboot the remote machines to immediately install the changes. The Fireboxes themselves sit at each site on the VPN, firewalling the LAN and controlling VPN sessions.

VPN Manager 2.0 also supports real-time monitoring of VPN tunnels.

VPN Manager 2.0 software, which includes Instant VPN and the DVCP server, costs from US$1,000 for managing up to four Fireboxes to US$8,000 for managing an unlimited number. WatchGuard began shipping the new software Nov. 1.

WatchGuard has also updated its ongoing service program called LiveSecurity Service. This upgrade, called Version II, lets customers get only the services they want rather than the package that was offered before. Also, customers have a variety of options about how they will be notified if LiveSecurity detects situations that trigger alarms.

LiveSecurity service costs US$45 per user of Compaq Computer Corp. PCs on which WatchGuard firewalls come standard. For the Firebox Small Office, it costs US$95 per year per box; US$995 per year per Firebox II and US$1,500 per year per Firebox II Fast VPN.

WatchGuard, in Seattle, is on the Web at