Dell SonicWall SuperMassive 9000 fills enterprise firewall gap

The SuperMassive 9000 series fills the gap between Dell SonicWall's SMB and service provider firewall products.

Dell Sonicwall filled an enterprise gap in its next-generation firewall portfolio with the announcement of its SuperMassive 9000 series, a less-expensive, easier-to-deploy alternative to the carrier-class SuperMassive 10000.

SonicWall released the SuperMassive 10000 series of modular, next-generation firewalls in 2010 prior to being acquired by Dell. While carriers and Internet service providers have been buying the 10000 series, Dell's sales teams were forced to offer steep discounts on the devices to get them into enterprises, according to Dmitriy Ayrapetov, director of product management at Dell SonicWall. Also, the chassis-based 10000 series is inherently more complex to deploy than fixed-form-factor firewalls.

"We saw we had a gap between our traditional SonicWall firewalls and the 10000 series," Ayrapetov said.

Unveiled at the 2013 RSA Conference, the 9000 series are fixed, 1U devices that will range in price from $35,000 to $70,000, Ayrapetov said, although list prices have not been set yet. The 9000 series is available in three models with the following performance ranges:

  • Firewall: 10 Gbps to 20 Gbps
  • Application control: 5 Gbps to 9.7 Gbps
  • Intrusion prevention: 5 Gbps to 9.7 Gbps
  • Malware protection: 3.5 Gbps to 5 Gbps

With all security services enabled, the premium model 9600 will have 4.5 Gbps of throughput. The 9200 and 9400 boxes will support 1.25 million maximum connections, while the 9600 will support 1.5 million connections.

"I'm cautiously optimistic," said Nick Buraglio, lead network engineer for the University of Illinois. Nothing but the highest end SuperMassive 10000 chassis would be suitable for Buraglio's network, which currently has a cluster of Juniper SRX 5800s at his network border. But he said the performance specifications for the 9000 series looks like a good option for enterprises.

"The throughput is impressive for the form factor," he said.

Buraglio has tested Dell SonicWall's smaller SMB firewalls and he's been impressed by the overall platform. He particularly likes the Web interface that SonicWall has built for its firewalls, which would allow him to set up the boxes and hand off their management to less-experienced administrators.

Based on his tests of the lower-end SonicWall devices and the specifications of the SuperMassive firewalls, Buraglio also believes that SonicWall's application identification is impressive.

"It can identify the application that's running, even if it's on non-standard ports," Buraglio said.

Many vendors try to offer the same ability, but can't do so at scale like Dell, he said.

Next Buraglio would like Dell SonicWall to reveal its plans for supporting IPv6 on its firewall portfolio, which will become more important, especially to service providers.

Dell SonicWall has several unnamed customers already in production with the new firewalls, Ayrapetov said. One school district is running all of its schools through a high availability pair of the 9000 series. Two universities are running them in front of their campus networks.

Last month Gartner identified Dell SonicWall as a niche player in its Magic Quadrant for enterprise firewalls. Gartner acknowledged that the SuperMassive 10000 series has found good traction with service providers, but the analyst firm dinged Dell for not having much visibility in the enterprise market. Gartner said the older SonicWall platforms are perceived as SMB-focused unified threat management appliances. Dell SonicWall hopes the 9000 series can fill a gap between the two product families.

Let us know what you think about the story; email: Shamus McGillicuddy, news director.

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