ServersAkonix L7, Will Longevity Lead to Success? Page 2

Akonix L7, Will Longevity Lead to Success? Page 2

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Administrative Flexibility

Once L7 is installed, most configuration tasks fall to the Akonix Enterprise Manager. This administrative module uses the services of Microsoft Console with its typical Explorer-like tree of server elements. MS Console is available to administrators on the corporate network. We hope future versions of the software will offer a Web-based version for greater accessibility.

L7’s administrative features, like the product itself, are modular in organization: Gateway Administration (L7 configuration), Data Transformation Server Administration (L7 Data Warehouse management), and Authentication Server Administration (user management). The most impressive element, Policy management (e.g., communication rules such as controlling file transfer), is unusually flexible. It defaults to the global ability to allow all or block all — messages, file transfers, executables. From there, the global policy is modified by setting individual policies for global, IP range, network domain, user group, or individual. Policy actions include: block, flag, log (or disable log), and allow. The potential granularity of policies is impressive, such as setting a complete time schedule for when a policy will be in force. To facilitate policies being set, Akonix provides a New Policy Wizard, which guides the development of complex policy statements.

This is the best IM policy management we’ve seen to date.

User management features include importing user lists (L7 helpfully supports Microsoft Address Book and other sources) and user authentication (Authentication Server Administration module). L7 can authenticate against Microsoft Active Directory, Windows NT Domain authentication, SUN One Directory Server 4.1 and higher, and Novell eDirectory 8.9.

For analysis of IM activity, Akonix provides the Enterprise Reporter, which creates reports from the L7 Data Warehouse. This is another strength of the product. More than 30 canned reports are available, although they don’t contain pretty graphics. All reports can be extensively modified using, for example, the Report Wizard, Report Template Wizard, and a Scheduled Report Wizard. Since most reports can be modified for dates, content, and format, the Report Template Wizard helps save the effort. Reports can then be exported to a bagful of formats (e.g., PDF, CSV, DIF, XLS, and XML) and destinations (e.g., file and e-mail).

Enterprises that have corporate e-mail archiving systems will be happy to note that L7 supports iLumin Assentor, Iron Mountain, KVS Enterprise Vault, Legato EmailXtender, and ZANTAZ Digital Safe.

Current Defense

IM, like e-mail, has its share of ills (spam, viruses, spyware, and various kinds of illicit use). This is a running battle for all IM gateway products. L7 handles the problems with an optional add-on for anti-virus software, a manually maintained language filter that checks for words that are not allowed (usually to block foul language and corporate key words), and, new in this version, a spim (IM spam) and malware filter that is automatically updated. Just as no one would think of manually updating anti-virus information, spam/spim should now be automatically updated. Thus, we find Akonix’ automatic update service both realistic and important.

At the very least, IM gateways relieve the pressure to use IM securely and in compliance with corporate archiving requirements. Products like Akonix L7 go further, making it possible to enhance corporate communication with IM. The cost of comfort and advantage is not inconsiderable, although L7 (with Akonix Enforcer) is about average in pricing compared to other offerings.

Akonix was one of the first companies to tackle the IM management problem, and the current version of L7 remains a strong product in what has become a very competitive field.

Pros: Excellent flexibility for IM policy coupled with superior management tools; Strong reporting capability (without fancy pie charts); Automated updating of spim and malware filter.
Cons: Administrative management does not have a Web-based version; For some environments, the all Microsoft requirements may rule out deployment.

Reviewed by: Nelson King
Original Review Date: 7/21/2004
Original Review Version: 3.0

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