Well I've finally had some time to finish off my review of the SRX210! It's only taken like 4 months. There is still some things missing from this review that I will post about at some stage.
The Juniper SRX 210
is a new firewall/router released earlier in 2009. It is the second smallest device in the SRX range (the SRX 100 being the smallest).
The SRX range runs on JunOS with some new security features added that can be found in Juniper's previous firewall rage the SSG (and before that the netscreen) and in JunOS-ES.
It is my understanding that the SRX series will slowly replace the SSG range.
I recently purchased an SRX210 so that I could learn JunOS. I am coming from a Juniper SSG/Netscreen background, having looked after many Netscreen 5GTs, 25s and 50s along with the newer range the SSG 5/20/520 etc range.
I have primarily used the SSGs for linking sites together with VPNs, providing VPN access to clients/employees, general firewalling/routing and some high availability. More recently I have been doing IPv6 over some of them.
Since the SRX is based on JunOS it has all the underlying routing features found in Junipers other product ranges (such as the J series) plus the security features recently added, while the SSG is primarily a firewall device (although it has some pretty cool routing features in it too). You can read my review of the SSG 5 here
So lets first look at the smaller SSG and SRX line up.
The SRX100 is basically the SSG5 equivalent, while the SRX210 better matches up to the SSG20.
In the SSG range the SSG5 and SSG20 were exactly the same except for the following differences:
- SSG20 has two mini-pim slots (for ADSL modules etc)
- SSG20 loses two of the ethernet ports the SSG5 has
- SSG20 is physically larger
Other than that both have the same performance, memory options, wireless options etc.
With the new SRX range the SRX210 is actually faster than the SRX100 and includes some nice extra features such as:
- SRX210 has 100mbit more routing throughput (750mbit)
- 2 gigabit ethernet ports
- Express card slot for 3G modems
- 1 mini-pim slot
- plus some other software things (increased session limit, max policies etc)
Juniper have a nice product chart here:
One interesting difference between the two is the memory configuration options.
- The SRX100 models all have 1GB of ram installed, yet the base version has a software licensing limitation of 512mb.
- You cannot upgrade a base SRX210 to 1GB as the base version only has 512mb of fixed memory.
At this stage there is no built in wireless options for the SRX range. Juniper have released an external wireless access point that you can configure from the SRX, but I'm not going to talk about that in this review.
So the SRX210 is actually quite a bit more useful than SRX100 depending on what you want to do, although both devices should be more than powerful enough for most routing requirements (750mbit on the SRX210!), although If you want to take full BGP tables you will need to be using at least an SRX650. I think this is a bit of a shame seeing as we're no longer limited by the operating system routing capabilities.
One thing that I think is a bit odd is that the SRX can only do 3G via the Express Card slot (so SRX210 only); they don't support using usb modems (both SRX100 and SRX210 have USB ports). This feature could come in a software update, but I don't know if it will. At least it is an improvement over the SSG range that couldn't do it at all.
So for the Netscreen/SSG users what does the SRX range offer:
- 3G WWLAN (SRX210 only)
- Significant routing performance increase
- Gigabit ethernet on smaller devices (from SRX210 upwards)
- PoE options (SRX210)
- Jflow/Netflow support
So sounds great but unfortunately the SRX range is actually missing some features from the SSGs:
- Usable web interface (more on this later)
- Integrated ADSL and wireless options
- Auto Connect VPN (probably will be fixed in a software update)
- Other minor feature differences
So lets now look at the software in a bit more depth.
ScreenOS vs JunOS.
One of the reason's I liked the SSG range was the web interface. You can do just about anything from the web interface, it is really easy to see what policies are setup and you can easily disable and rearrange them.
The SRX version of JunOS (tested with 9.6R2.11) has a web interface that is completely different to ScreenOS. It is broken down into two main sections configure and monitor. Unlike ScreenOS you need to switch between these two sections to either configure a setting or see what is actually going on. It might actually be a useful feature if is wasn't for the fact that the web interface is bad, really bad.
My biggest issues include:
- It's slow, much much slower to load that ScreenOS
- It seems to expire my session and log me out while in the process of doing stuff
- It doesn't feel like it was designed for people to actually use. It is basically a graphical representation of the configuration file. I've noticed that I expect different things from a web interface verses a command line interface.
Because of these reasons I don't even bother using the web interface, which really feels like I'm going backwards compared to the SSG. Don't get me wrong the command line in JunOS is great, more complex than ScreenOS but in the long term you will appreciate the power of it.
For the larger range of SRX devices this probably doesn't matter as much because the people configuring them should really know how to use the command line; but I believe a good web interface is really important for the smaller devices especially if Juniper want this device to be popular in not just the enterprise market.
Juniper have since released JunOS 10.0R2.10 which seems to have improved the speed of the web interface. They have also started working on fixing up many of the configuration pages. From what I have heard Juniper plan to keep improving it over the next few versions. I might do an updated post once the WebUI has been improved further.
During the writing of this review Juniper have released at least three software updates and at least for me each upgrade as been an improvement. Before JunOS 10.0R2.10 the SRX210 was really too buggy for production use, I had lots of issues with keeping a stable PPPoE link up. Luckily this seems to have finally been fixed in the latest OS. This was one of the main reasons for the delay in this review. I really wanted to get the problem fixed first.
Also during the review, one of the companies I work for purchased two SRX240s, this has allowed me to really get used to the operating system as I've had to setup Clustering/NAT/DHCP/VLANs/SNMP/VPNs and some firewall rules. I ended up configuring everything via the command line and I'm glad I did because the command line in JunOS is really much better than ScreenOS.
The configuration in JunOS is converted to XML when loading, so the configuration process has a much more structured feel to it. Everything is nicely broken down into different sections such as: system, interfaces, security, vlans etc. I've found this makes it easier to find what you're looking when changing things.
Upgrading the operating system is also easy as you can simply point JunOS to an HTTP url and not need to setup a TFTP server.
I still prefer the ScreenOS WebUI for configuring firewall policies though, the whole process just seems quicker and better thought out.
For laptop style VPNs Juniper have moved away from Netscreen Remote the 3rd party IPsec VPN software and replaced it with basically nothing. They now have something call dynamic VPN, which I haven't used yet. This type of VPN setup has a new VPN client but it also requires extra licenses to be purchased (at great expense I'm sure), so I probably won't use it. Luckily JunOS still supports IPsec VPNs so you should simply be able to use one of the better free VPN clients (Netscreen Remote really sucked anyway so no big loss). I haven't tested this yet, although if it does work correctly that is great because the SRX actually supports 128 IPsec tunnels on the SRX100 and double that on the 210! Heaps more than the old SSGs.
One last thing I will mention in the software section, JunOS doesn't seem to support IPv6 in flow-based mode which is a shame. Hopefully this will come soon.
The base Juniper SRX210 is about the same size as the SSG20; it includes 8 ethernet ports and a single mini-pim slot (the SSG20 had two, which was useful if say you wanted to have two adsl connections).
The main difference between the two is the different integrated options.
The SSG20 allowed for wireless, where as the SRX210 gives you PoE and VoIP options.
The SRX210 is a promising device that has been plagued by some early software bugs (most of which have been fixed). It doesn't include all the features from the old SSG range (yet) and it does feel a bit more enterprise than the SSG. I think the smaller SSG range was great for small businesses, where as the smaller SRX range can get quite expensive with some of the optional extras.
I will miss the integrated wireless options from the SSGs (the SRX external wireless is very expensive) and for the time being some of the stability.
Saying all this JunOS is the future for Juniper and I believe the SRX range will keep getting better (and quickly JunOS 10.1 is due out soon).
Juniper have also produced some nice help documents recently for users of ScreenOS, they also have many examples of say VPNs between an SSG and SRX which makes the upgrade process easier.
Just a quick update, there are currently some serious issues with clustering in the SRX series. If you head over to the SRX section in the Juniper forum, lots of people are having issues (including myself). I would recommend that you hold off any purchases of the SRX devices for use in clustered environments.