First, there's the firewall itself.
The company's Essential Firewall Edition includes the following features (from Astaro's annoucement):
"Networking: Internet Router, Bridging, DNS server & proxy, DynDNS, DHCP server & relay, NTP support, automatic QoS "Network Security: Stateful Packet Inspection Firewall & Network ddress translation (DNAT/SNAT/Masquerading)
"Remote Access: PPTP and L2TP over IPSec support (including iPhone support)
"Logging/Reporting: Full logging on local hard drive, searching, real-time reports for hardware, network usage and network security, daily executive reports
"Management: Web-based GUI in local languages, setup wizard, configuration backup & restore, administrator notifications, SNMP support, centralized management via Astaro Command Center (also free of charge)"
Businesses will also, Astaro states, have access to the company's user forum. Users wanting a higher level of support will need to upgrade to the purchase version.
The range and reach of the features included in the free program is impressive; Astaro's freebie doesn't seem as hobbled as other free offers.
Which brings me to the second interesting aspect of the offer.
The free aspect.
One of the challenges of a dynamic and crowded security aspect -- Which product do I buy for my company? -- is also creating precisely this sort of opportunity.
Astaro executives have been candid about using the free offer to overcome business resistance to changing network security products.
By offering a downloadable, features-laden version of their firewall, Astaro on the one hand does provide a safe path for budget conscious business to shift their network protection on a more--than-limited-time-trial basis. Some of those businesses will undoubtedly want the fuller features and especially the higher levels of support the purchase version offers.
But for many of you, the protection offered for free will be just fine, and forum-level support will suit your needs as well.
And that's an offer that you should definitely consider.