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Competition and Pricing

NETGEAR considers SonicWall and Fortinet to be competitors in the UTM space.  I haven't reviewed the Fortinet product, so I'll focus on comparing the UTM10 and SonicWall TZ100W

Both the NETGEAR and SonicWall use Cavium Networks CPUs, with the UTM10 using a Cavium 500 Mhz Octeon and the TZ100W, a Cavium 300 MHz Octeon.  In my testing, it appears that SonicWall got significantly more bang for the buck from their less-powerful CPU.

Update 12/27/2009 Updated with revised UTM10 throughput measurements.

Table 4 shows that the TZ100W has higher throughput than the UTM10 with all UTM features on. And while enabling all the UTM10's UTM features takes an ~90% toll on throughput, it reduces the TZ100W's by only about 60%. But I'm sure NETGEAR would argue that the difference is due to the UTM10's more comprehensive threat protection.

UTM Throughput comparison

Table 4: UTM Throughput comparison

Clearly, the SonicWall TZ100W has throughput advantages over the NETGEAR UTM10.  However, pricing is also a key factor in choosing a network device.  NETGEAR makes it easy to figure out your costs on the UTM10.  Instead of selling the device and subscriptions separately, the UTM10 is available with a simple all-inclusive bundle list price of $720.  Included in the bundle are the router, 1 year subscriptions for Intrusion, Web, and Email protection, along with 24/7 maintenance and support.  This UTM10 bundle is available via on line retailers for under $500. 

To pull it all together, I've listed some of the key attributes of both products in Table 5.  Networking strengths for the UTM10 include Gigabit Ethernet ports and VLAN capability, while the TZ100W has dual WAN and wireless capability.  Both support up to 5 SSL VPN connections, but the UTM10 has capacity for ten Site-to-Site VPN tunnels compared to the TZ100W's five.

Competitive summary

Table 5: Competitive summary

The TZ100W has a significant advantage in speed with all UTM features enabled; 31.4 Mbps to the UTM10's 8.44 Mbps.  And finally, the UTM10 has a list price of $720 vs. $935 for the TZ100W with 1 year subscriptions for all services included with both.

Closing Thoughts

NETGEAR's UTM10 and SonicWall's TZ100W can both provide small businesses with security features previously available only to deep-pocketed larger businesses. But each company has chosen its own mix of features that may make your choice a difficult one.

Sonicwall has equipped the TZ100W with more networking features, including dual WAN ports and 802.11n wireless, where NETGEAR has opted for no wireless and a single WAN port. Sonicwall has also focused on providing a higher-throughput product, with almost 4X the speed of the UTM10 with all UTM features enabled. And finally, Sonicwall's solution includes anti-virus and anti-malware apps for client PCs and ensures that they are running and updated, while NETGEAR has no equivalent client AV / malware solution.

But NETGEAR's focus is clearly on establishing its bona fides in the area that matters most in a UTM appliance - threat mitigation. Although commissioned and paid for by NETGEAR, the Tolly / AV-Test study shows the UTM10's superior effectiveness in blocking virus and malware threats. And in the absence of any contradictory data from Sonicwall, those results stand.

As I noted earlier, it's beyond my ability to adequately judge any product's UTM effectiveness. But I can judge features and ease of use and I have to say that I was impressed with the UTM10 on both counts.

12/9/09: Clarified conclusion

In the end, I'm a network guy and I consider performance to be very important in product selection. So, if it were my job to select a UTM device to protect my organization's network from security threats, I'd pick the UTM10 over the Sonicwall TZ100W.

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