Equiinet NetPilot Plus

  • Editors' rating
    7.5 Very good

Pros

  • Strong antivirus, spam and content filtering services
  • all services licensed for whole network

Cons

  • No browser-based email access or groupware functionality

Swindon-based Equiinet is one of the longest established of the server appliance vendors with NetPilot products to suit a range of small to medium sized companies. These provide the usual file sharing, email and Web server facilities but the emphasis these days is more on network security, with additional antivirus, anti-spam and content filtering applications now also included as standard.

We looked at the NetPilot Plus, which is ostensibly designed to be shared by around 30 users. It’s worth noting, however, that there are no hard-and-fast limits here and similar hardware is employed by other vendors claiming to handle hundreds of connections. Moreover, no extra licences are required to support additional users beyond this notional figure.

Although it can be deployed as a standalone server, like most appliances the NetPilot is really designed to be used as gateway between the LAN and the Internet. To this end it has two 10/100Mbps Ethernet ports, one of which can be connected to a WAN router, plus either an ISDN or X.21 interface which can be used for day-to-day or backup Internet connectivity. On the downside, the internal disk is only 30GB in size, although in practice few SMEs generate enough data to warrant more.

The multi-lingual Web interface makes light work of initial setup and daily management. We particularly liked the way we were able to open common paths through the built-in firewall (for the email and/or Web server, for example) simply by pressing a button. The IPSec-based VPN gateway, too, proved easy to configure both for site-to-site and site-to-client access, with Safenet client software licensed for three users included.

A boundary caching server is another built-in option, along with an SMTP mail server that can also be used as a gateway to other mail servers such as Exchange. This supports POP3 clients such as Outlook but not IMAP4 access. Similarly there’s no Web-based access to the NetPilot mail server, and no groupware functionality, which is a little disappointing.

On the plus side, you do get a good set of tools to enforce security at the WAN boundary. To check for viruses, for example, the popular Sophos Anti Virus software is provided and can scan both email and HTTP traffic. Anti-spam filtering, too, comes as standard (the software used is a mix of Spam Assessment and SpamCop) together with N2H2 to handle content filtering. All three are bundled with updates for a year included in the purchase price, with everything managed via the Web interface.

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