Celestix MSA 3200i review

Microsoft has replaced its venerable ISA Server with Forefront TMG 2010 and Celestix delivers it as a complete plug-and-go security appliance. Read this exclusive review of the MSA 3200i to see if it is a more sensible alternative to buying and installing TMG yourself.


It's taken Microsoft a long time to get serious about its Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) Server with the last update occurring in 2006 and comprising nothing more than a service pack. Its latest Forefront Threat Management Gateway (TMG) 2010 is its long awaited successor and Celestix' new MSA 3200i appliance delivers it ready to go out of the box.

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Supplied to us by Wick Hill, the 3200i is one of a large family of MSA threat management gateways from Celestix and is aimed at businesses with 100 to 500 users. It has TMG Workgroup Edition installed but if you want load balancing, failover and centralised management of multiple appliances then the 3200b model is the one to go for as this has the Branch Edition loaded.

At its foundation TMG provides the same core features as ISA Server so you get an inbound and outbound security gateway, support for IPsec VPNs and forward and reverse web proxy services. A big difference is that TMG is 64-bit only, but it also offers a lot more security features than ISA Server ever did.

It comes as standard with an SPI firewall, HTTP/HTTPS traffic inspection and Microsoft's NIS (network inspection system) which scans traffic looking for Windows exploits. Options include web filtering and virus protection which are both activated with a subscription to Microsoft's Web Protection Service. Email security and anti-spam measures are also now available with the optional Forefront Protection for Exchange which doesn't support any third-party mail servers.

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The appliance has Windows Server 2008 Standard 64-bit and TMG preloaded. For the quickest deployment we suggest connecting it to a network with DHCP services. If you want to assign a static IP address immediately you'll have to do this using the jog dial and LCD panel on front of the appliance.

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