Untangle Ties Storage & Security

Startup touts open source security software, reveals plans to add backup features

June 30, 2007

4 Min Read
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In a move that demonstrates the increased convergence of storage and security, startup Untangle has unveiled an open-source version of its email security technology and is planning to add backup features to the solution. (See Untangle Intros Gateway Platform.)

The vendor, which competes with backup and security specialist SonicWall, is now making available free of charge its Gateway software, which combines Web filtering, email security, and anti-phishing features. (See SonicWall Acquires Aventail, SonicWALL Buys Aventail, and Users: Encryption No Silver Bullet.)

Prior to this week, Gateway, which runs on a standard server, cost $75 per month for between 11 and 30 users and $195 a month for firms with more than 30 users.

An all-in-one security and storage package are on the roadmap. The benefit is that users can limit the amount of hardware they deploy, according to Raul Mujica, the startup's vice president of marketing. "The advantage of the software platform is that you don't have to keep adding boxes."

Untangle plans to add backup of file and email servers to the Gateway sometime next year. Until then, it will focus squarely on the security market, typified by the decision to make the Gateway software free of charge.The open-source version, similar to Linux, uses a GPL license, although Bob Walters, the Untangle CEO, is not as altruistic as he may appear. (See Fedora Now Openly Available and Sun Expands SPARC.) Although the Gateway software is free, support and configuration backup are not. The startup has a monthly support charge of $25 for firms using the software to protect users on up to 10 PCs, rising up to $250 for sites with more than 150 PCs.

"We're going to make money," Walters says. "Nobody thought that Red Hat could make money off Linux."

The startup has not yet revealed its support cost for Gateway's backup features, although Mujica promised that the storage solution will also be open source.

Recent months have seen the lines between storage and security become even more blurred, with SonicWall snapping up VPN specialist Aventail and a slew of other vendors tying their storage and security products together. (See SonicWall Acquires Aventail, Symantec Launches Storage United, Symantec Unveils NetBackup 6.5, HP Intros Secure Advantage, and HP's Storage & Security Blitz.)

Unlike Untangle, which plans its software to be the basis for future product combos, rival SonicWall takes a predominantly hardware-based approach to security. And despite SonicWall's recent Aventail acquisition, the supplier is unlikely to turn its storage and security offerings into a single entity."We're comfortable keeping the platforms separate at the moment because of the different needs [of users] and the places that [the technologies] lie in the market," says SonicWall spokeswoman Mary McEvoy, explaining that email security, firewall, and CDP technologies typically require different levels of latency.

SonicWall aims its TZ150 at firms with between five and 20 users. A higher-end model, the TZ180, is targeted at firms with more than 20 users. Pricing for the TZ150 starts at $450, with a $605 list price for the TZ180.

SonicWall remains committed to hardware-based security. "We find that the hardened appliance version is very appealing to a lot of small businesses, because they don't have to fiddle around with user interfaces or software," says McEvoy.

SonicWall is also unlikely to throw its weight behind open source anytime soon. "Our strategy is to have proprietary security," she says. "There can be potential hiccups with open source security and we stand behind the proprietary model."

Analyst Alex Fletcher of Entiva Group believes that Untangle has nonetheless made a shrewd move by going open source. "Untangle has gone after the long tail of the secure content management market," he says. "The SMB sector can typically be priced out of the equation."Users are certainly not opposed to the concept of free security solutions, says Tom Bowers, managing director of analyst firm Security Constructs and a former information security officer in the pharmaceutical industry. "We were happy to go down that path," he tells Byte and Switch, explaining that his firm relied heavily on the open source Nessus vulnerability testing tool.

Despite the obvious cost benefits of open source, Bowers acknowledges that open source software, without third-party support, can be a major drain on resources. "There's a lot of time involved in open source tools -- it's free in cost but it's not free in time," he says, adding that his firm bought in third-party support for Nessus from Tenable Network Security.

James Rogers, Senior Editor Byte and Switch

  • Aventail Corp.

  • Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. (Nasdaq: CHKP)

  • Fortinet Inc.

  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)

  • SonicWall Inc. (Nasdaq: SNWL)

  • Sourcefire Inc. (Nasdaq: FIRE)

  • StillSecure

  • Symantec Corp. (Nasdaq: SYMC)

  • Tenable Network Security Inc.

  • Untangle Inc.

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