Panda GateDefender Performa 9500 review

Panda has updated its Performa web content security appliances with some much needed improvements. Our live tests show anti-spam performance for the 9500 is exemplary but is this enough to justify the price? Read our review to find out.

We tested this using Windows Live Messenger and the Vuze BitTorrent client and found that they could be blocked easily. However, you can still only apply a total blocking action for these services and can't, for example, control individual functions such as chat and file sharing.

For URL filtering, Panda has replaced Cobion with Commtouch which delivers far better performance. It provides 65 URL categories which can be applied globally to all users and scheduled to be active at specific times each day.

This can be customised further using profiles and definitions so you can apply a range of web access policies to your users. Commtouch performed very well during testing - with the games and gambling categories blocked our test clients were unable to access any of these sites. Productivity sapping sites such as Facebook and Twitter were also handled efficiently just by blocking the social networking category.

Virus scanning can be applied selectively to a range of protocols and as the appliance scans outbound email it can detect and block messages that may be the result of an internal viral infection. For HTTP, HTTPS and FTP downloads the transmission will be blocked if an infected payload is discovered

Anti-spam measures are handled by the Cloudmark hosted service and this excelled during testing. We left a number of clients downloading live email through the appliance for a week and the 9500 spotted every spam message. This near-perfect score was only marred by three false positives.

We found very little to criticise in the Performa 9500 as it performed very well across a range of tests. The Sun Fire hardware platform is a good choice, we found it easy to install and the new web interface makes configuration much easier and is capable of providing a lot of useful information.

Verdict

The Performa 9500 has benefited from a number of recent improvements including HTTPS scanning as standard and a newly designed web interface. Performance during testing was beyond reproach with the anti-spam module delivering a near perfect score. It’s easy to deploy and its value is increased by the fact that Panda doesn’t operate a per-user licensing scheme.

Chassis: 1U Sun Fire X4140 rack mount server CPU: 2 x 2.5GHz AMD Opteron 2380 Memory: 8GB 667MHz DDR2 Storage: 2 x 72GB Seagate Savvio SFF hard disks in hot–swap carriers RAID: LSI PCI-e SAS RAID card with mirrored drives Network: Two-port Gigabit PCI-Express card with hardware bypass Power: 2 x 658W hot-plug supplies Management: Web browser

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