2014: The Year in Reviews

Wednesday Dec 31st 2014 by Frank Ohlhorst
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Looking for 2014’s best in enterprise network monitoring, security, and cloud backup and collaboration? Here’s what’s new with our picks.

2014 brought a wealth of new and updated network monitoring, security, and cloud backup and collaboration products to the market. In the tech world, however, nothing stays the same for long, and many of our picks for the year have already undergone changes since we initially reviewed them. Here’s what’s new with the products we reviewed this year.

Review: Zetta DataProtect Simplifies Enterprise Cloud Backup

What we said: The Zetta DataProtect cloud backup service infuses enterprise-grade backup capabilities with SaaS simplicity. Frank Ohlhorst reviews.

What’s New:

Probably the biggest news out of Zetta.net is that the company has launched a migration program for users of Symantec’s Backup Exec Appliance, which Symantec is discontinuing.  The program allows Backup Exec Appliance customers to sign up for Zetta.net’s cloud backup and disaster recovery service and receive up to 6 months free, as well as up to 20 percent off the cost of an annual contract. Previously, the company offered a migration promotion for Symantec Backup Exec Cloud customers following that service’s announced shutdown.

Zetta.net provides customers a SaaS-based cloud backup and disaster recovery solution with built-in WAN acceleration, designed to rapidly move large datasets over the Internet. The company claims its customers have achieved transfer speeds of up to 5TB in 24 hours. Additionally, the service requires no appliance or other new hardware, allowing users to easily deploy and manage their backups, as well as avoiding the potentially costly recovery delay of waiting for a replacement appliance after a disaster.

Review: PRTG Network Monitor v14 Simplifies Network Management

What we said: Version 14 of Paessler's PRTG Network Monitor eschews complexity for simplicity and almost makes network management fun.

What’s New:

The company has added push notifications to its network management and monitoring solution, allowing users to receive notices on any mobile device the PRTG app is installed on, giving them visibility into any warnings, alerts or outages with just one touch. The push notifications are easier to set up than SMS notifications and delivered much faster. Paessler processes the notifications through its own cloud infrastructure, which routs them to the mobile devices through Apple and Google. It is recommended that users still receive SMS or email alerts as a failsafe, in the event of an issue with a mobile service provider.

In addition to push notifications, Paessler has announced a variety of updates to PRTG Network Monitor, including:

  • Improved Web interface with responsive design that eliminates redundant white space and enhances usability, especially on larger screens
  • Enhanced discovery features that will recommend sensors for newly added devices
  • A variety of new sensor types focused on supporting the latest versions of some of the most popular technologies

WatchGuard Brings Advanced Persistent Threat Protection (APT) to the Masses

What we said: WatchGuard's latest Unified Threat Management OS incorporates cloud-based Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) protection.

What’s New:

The company has refreshed their appliance offerings to bring a dramatic increase in security horsepower. WatchGuard's new Firebox® M400 and M500 firewalls improve performance by as much as 149 percent in encrypted traffic inspection and up to 61 percent in overall performance. All WatchGuard NGFW and UTM appliances run on WatchGuard's Fireware OS, which is built on the latest Intel® Pentium™ and Intel® Celeron™ Processors, allowing WatchGuard's firewall performance to continually scale.

The WatchGuard Firebox M400 and M500 now also provide the flexibility of two SFP (small form-factor pluggable) ports that can feature either 1 Gb copper or 1 Gb fiber connections, ensuring that firewalls can adapt to end-user environments. SFP transceivers are available as optional accessories. Both models feature the WatchGuard Fireware OS, v.11.9.4. This software version includes new features to simplify deep inspection of HTTPS traffic, allowing users to include names instead of numbers in their policy definitions.

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Review: ownCloud 6 Addresses Cloud Security FUD

What we said: Cloud security fears got you down? OwnCloud’s latest update brings file sync and share to the enterprise without the need for an external host.

What’s New:

ownCloud Enteprise recently went from version 6 to version 7, which introduced a plethora of enhancements, improvements and capabilities. Most notable improvements include:

  • Improved sharing: Users can now opt for secure server to server sharing, allowing users across multiple ownCloud installations to share content across more than just folders
  • Responsive design: ownCloud now leverages responsive design ideologies, allowing the service to work seamlessly across multiple device platforms, such as PCs, Macs, tablets, and smartphones.
  • Store, access and control: Object stores can now be used as primary storage, making it much easier to connect applications using ownCloud’s webhooks.
  • Speed improvements: ownCloud web pages render and load faster with new static CSS and JavaScript files. And ownCloud clients sync faster with the new parallel upload and download mechanism. There have also been many improvements to database access of ownCloud, improving responsiveness and decreasing server resource consumption.
  • Additional document handling: In addition to the existing ability to collaboratively edit .odt files within the web browser, ownCloud can now convert Microsoft Word documents on the fly for online editing. You can open a Word doc online, edit it live with other users in the browser, and close it again – it will convert back to Word. And it will be saved back to your desktop with the changes embedded.
  • External storage: The external storage app provides access to storage locations including FTP, Dropbox, Google Drive, sFTP, Swift, S3, WebDAV, SMB/CIFS and more. Admins can specify which storage type can be added by end users in their personal tab, providing more granular control over external storage mounts.
  • APIs: A new API allows for a visual representation facilitated by the desktop client shows which files are owned by the user, and which files are shared with the user but owned by someone else. This API indicates which files are shared, so that the desktop client and mobile app can place the shared file or shared folder icon appropriately on files stored in ownCloud.

Review: Intralinks VIA Enterprise Secures Collaboration

What we said: Cloud-based Intralinks VIA Enterprise provides a Sync and Share that addresses the data security needs of the enterprise.

Whats New:

In October, Intralinks launched Intralinks VIA® 2.0, the next generation of the company’s secure file sharing and collaboration solution. Built on the Intralinks Collaboration Platform, Intralinks VIA 2.0 provides a new user interface and unique document security capabilities that enable enterprises to gain all the productivity benefits typically associated with file sync and share services, while maintaining the granular document control required to comply with the most stringent security policies and regulations.

The platform supports a variety of SaaS-based collaboration applications purpose-built for mergers and acquisitions, clinical trials, investor communications, and more. Intralinks VIA 2.0 integrates with these specialized applications with a general file sharing and collaboration solution that employees can use as part of their daily work routines, while giving CIOs and CISOs enterprise-wide control over cloud-based file sharing. Version 2.0 brings the following to the table:

  • Enhanced information rights management: IRM by DesignTM is a new capability with Intralinks 2.0, giving administrators the ability to enforce IRM by default and users the power to precisely control who can view, edit or share files. IRM is enforced with a button click, and no plug-ins are needed to view Microsoft Office and Adobe PDF documents. Access controls include specifying which devices can open a file, locations where files can be accessed, and the ability to set expiration dates. Access to files can be revoked in real-time with Intralinks’ UNshare feature.
  • Native support for Microsoft Office Online: Intralinks VIA is the only file sharing and collaboration solution to provide native support for Microsoft Office Online. Users can view Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Adobe PDF files online without leaving the security of the Intralinks platform, greatly enhancing both user productivity and information security. Future enhancements include full native online document editing without the need for a third-party file viewer.
  • Customer-managed encryption keys: Intralinks VIA 2.0 is the first file sharing and collaboration solution to provide customer-managed encryption keys as an option. When customers manage their own keys, cloud vendors can no longer access their information. This removes the vendor as a source of risk, both from “hack once, compromise all customers” data breaches, and from government surveillance-related privacy concerns.
  • New user interface: Intralinks VIA 2.0 eliminates the tradeoffs between security and usability with its new, intuitive user interface. Users can more easily organize their content and collaborate on work, all while keeping their information safe with single-click access to sophisticated security and privacy capabilities.

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NetMotion Wireless Brings Order to Mobility Chaos

What we said: NetMotion’s Locality cellular network performance management suite offers visibility into mobile workforce connectivity issues.

What’s New:

Now in version 2.1, NetMotion has added to Locality several critical features, such as GIS integration, GPS Metrics and an enhanced HTML-5 based console. Those improvements come on top of the enhancements offered by version 2.03, which added on-premise deployment support via a virtual appliance, enhanced native client authentication and an increase in support from 2000 to 15000 agents.

Summed up, NetMotion Locality 2.1 offers much more data on mobile devices, which can be tied into GIS maps and offer much more data via GPS data stream captures. 

Bitglass Supercharges BYOD and Cloud App Security

What we said: Bitglass aims to unify cloud application security with mobile device management, plugging two of the biggest security holes in the enterprise.

What’s New:

Since the company's launch out of stealth at the end of January 2014, the Bitglass solution has been expanded dramatically, continuing to execute on the company vision of providing total data protection outside the firewall, focusing on the four primary areas of potential data leakage as data moves beyond the corporate network with cloud and mobile: In the cloud, at access, on devices, and from the corporate network.

The initial release of Bitglass focused primarily on access and device security across cloud and mobile, both of which have been extensively expanded to include data leakage prevention, file encryption, and sensitive data redaction. These features add to Bitglass' proxy redirect, data tracking/watermarking, and clientless selective wipe features, announced when the company launched.

Two major product releases since initial launch have added protection for corporate data in the cloud and discovery of shadow IT applications on the network. In July, Bitglass released its approach to data protection in the cloud, which gives customers the flexibility of public cloud apps with the security of private cloud data. The September release of Bitglass Cloud Discovery added support for identifying shadow IT applications on the network, the first step that many organizations take before sanctioning and protecting cloud applications with the Bitglass data protection solution.

DB Networks Brings Intelligence to SQL Injection Protection

What we said: You must identify an attack to prevent it. The DB Networks IDS-6300 aims to provide nearly plug-and-play SQL injection attack monitoring.

What’s New:

Previously, DB Networks’ DBN-6300 focused primarily on machine learning and behavioral analysis to immediately and accurately identify SQL injection attacks. Using that as a foundation, the company has expanded into Intelligent Continuous Monitoring of the core network. The DBN-6300 was already doing deep protocol analysis to identify database attacks and garner a wealth of information. Now, that information can be distilled to provide customers with new insights into their core network.

IT staffers now have detailed insights regarding their data-in-motion. For example, the company now provides detailed analysis of the interactions between applications (or other database clients) and their connected databases. That allows the identification of traffic that is crossing into restricted segments in violation of policies, unusual spikes in traffic patterns, access attempts to privileged databases,  and so forth.

Those detailed insights into data-in-motion can also reveal advance persistent threats (APTs) that have slipped through perimeter defenses and are operating with impunity in the core network. Without intelligent continuous monitoring, APTs remain invisible and may go unnoticed for months. Another new capability is the addition of data visualization tools that assist security analysts in identifying unusual activity and ultimately reducing risks. At a glance, they can identify “hot spots” and drill down to gain a far deeper understanding of the situation.

GFI Gives SMEs Enterprise-Class Web Security and Control from the Cloud

What we said: GFI aims to ease cloud security and web filtering for SMEs with GFI Cloud and Web Protection. Frank Ohlhorst reviews.

Whats New:

GFI Cloud is now called CONTROLnow and has become part of the company’s LogicNow hosted management platform. New features now include better integration with the company’s suite of other hosted products, as well as an enhanced dashboard that focuses on centralized control and is fully supported by popular web browsers.

The company has also introduced a web based gathering point called the GFI IdeaFactory, where users can interact with support, make product suggestions and learn about the latest enhancements. That community approach should breed better products and provides a running list of enhancements.  

Network monitoring, security, and cloud solutions are always evolving, with developers working overtime to create new features that address emergent concerns. When added to a solid foundation, these new features can often make a good product great.

What are the best products you’ve come across in 2014?

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