Micro Center Super Find! McAfee UTM 720


The history of the tech industry is littered with small tragedies.  Often these tragedies involve the acquisition of a small niche player by a massive well funded incumbent looking to expand their portfolio.  The outcome is always the same; great products are either assimilated and transformed, or sent to an undignified extinction.  Such is the case with Secure Computing and the UTM SG720.  When McAfee acquired them back in 08, their motivator was likely IP, talent or customer acquisition.  One thing that seemed certain, though, is that the security software giant was looking to make a play into the appliance space and any existing product lines would be heading for life support.  As of 2013, the axe has finally fallen on the last supported SnapGear appliance, the UTM SG720.

What made the UTM SG720 compelling was that it combined “lights out” reliability, with a decent feature set at a compelling price point.  While it would be unlikely to make the supported device lists of any truly large enterprise, its rock solid Linux core made it an unsung hero for the mid-market where even today it keeps countless university and small business sites connected.  Of course those days are now over and it is never wise to trust production work to an unsupported device so folks will have to find replacements.  For a home lab, however, the UTM SG720 could be the perfect component at the right price.  So what is the right price?  That’s a super subjective question but for me, $139 qualifies!  It turns out that Micro Center is blowing out their mothball inventory of these units and my local one happened to have 2 open box packages left.  The new price is now $199, but the open box samples looked fantastic and were certified as checked, functional, tested and complete, so I couldn’t resist!  I picked one up and will be replacing my much loved pfSense box with it.  While pfSense is fantastic, I don’t prefer to run an appliance and I’ve always wanted to give the SnapGear stuff a trial run.  I’ll be covering unboxing, initial setup, and connection to the vCloud Hybrid Service in upcoming installments, but first two quick photos:

When it comes in a really plain brown box you *know* it's good!
When it comes in a really plain brown box you *know* it’s good!

And the contents of the plain brown box prove this to be true:

One firewall. Check. One ethernet cable. Check.  One power cord. Check.  One "rack mount kit" (aka "bag of screws") Check.
One firewall. Check. One ethernet cable. Check. One power cord. Check. One setup disc. Check.  One really thin manual. Check. One “rack mount kit” (aka “bag of screws”) Check.

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