The Sophos Remote Ethernet Devices (REDs) are a great way of securely expanding your network by connecting remote offices over the public Internet. The REDs come in two sizes: the RED 10 and RED 50.  The RED spec sheet basically tells you that the RED 10 is for small branches and the RED 50 is for large branches. However there is not really a detailed feature comparison to help you choose which option is right for your branches.

In this article I will explain some of the major differences, and why they are important in choosing a Sophos RED 10 vs RED 50.

RED Operational Modes

Both RED devices are capable of running in one of the three operational modes.

  • Standard Unified
  • Standard Split
  • Transparent Split

In this regard, the RED 10 and RED 50 essentially ‘do the same thing’, however the RED 50 has a few more options that could be a key deciding factor.

The image below is a side-by-side comparison of the deployment options for a RED 50 (on the left) and a RED 10 (on the right).

WAN Connectivity

When connecting the RED to the Internet through your existing Internet router(s):

  • The RED 10 can connect to one ethernet WAN interface.
  • The RED 50 can connect to two WAN interfaces and use them in failover or load balance mode.

Both devices provide the option of configuring an optional 3G USB modem as fallback.

This is an important consideration if the RED site connects through multiple connections, either for fault tolerance or throughput. This redundancy mitigates a failure on the RED side.

Sophos UTM Configuration

One of the features of a RED is that they are configuration free on the remote side. RED devices are managed centrally through your Sophos UTM.

  • The RED 10 is configured to use one UTM.
  • The RED 50 can be configured to use two UTM devices, one as the primary and another as secondary. The UTMs can be used in failover or load balanced modes.

This is an important consideration if you have a secondary datacenter or DR site. This redundancy mitigates a failure on the UTM side.

The RED 50 can be deployed with the cloud provisioning service like the RED 10 but you also have the option to deploy via a USB stick. This is useful when your connection has limited Internet access.

Physical installation options

Both RED devices are sturdy, low maintenance units that can be deployed in non-datacenter environments. They have large tolerances for humidity and temperature fluctuation making them suitable for deployment in and an around the branch office.

  • The RED 10 is a desktop device
  • The RED 50 can be deployed as a desktop device but it also supports wall mounting using wall screws. The unit can also be rack mounted when fitted with the optional rack mount ear brackets.

If you need to deploy your network gear in a particular manner due to company or legal regulations, the RED 50 provides these options.

Throughput

In all but the smallest networks, you typically expand your network connectivity with additional switches or WiFi APs.

  • The RED 10 is a Fast Ethernet device that supports 4 x 10/100Mb interfaces.
  • The maximum WAN throughput is 30Mb/s.
  • The RED 50 is a Gigabit Ethernet device that supports 4 x 10/100/1000Mb interfaces.
  • There is also support for network VLAN tagging.
  • The maximum WAN throughput is 260Mb/s

Tunnel compression is the ability to compress WAN traffic between UTM and RED. This is beneficial for low bandwidth connection (1 – 2 Mb/s) and has decreased benefit the higher the bandwidth, however the documentation is a little unclear as to where the line is on this.

The documentation even suggests that tunnel compression can slow throughput down. Considering the RED 10 uses a slower CPU, tunnel compression might be the main culprit for slow throughput. As such, I only use tunnel compression on a RED 10 in split mode, not in unified mode.

WiFi Options

Neither of the RED devices comes with built in Wifi, however you can very easily connect a Sophos Access Point (AP) and deploy a wireless network in Bridge to AP mode. You also have the option of extending existing wireless networks via the RED and AP. For more information on the available APs see: Sophos Secure Wifi Technical Specifications.

User Interface

As mentioned, the RED devices are configuration free on the remote side. However, it is important to know what they are doing.

  • The RED 10 has indicator lights. All status and activity is indicated by flashing and colour combinations. These indicators are actually quite adequate for the basic functions of the RED 10.
  • The RED 50 has indicator lights; an interactive LED display with navigation buttons and provides console access via an RJ45 connector. As the device has many more deployment options, simple indicator lights are less practical.

Cost

Price varies depending on your region, reseller and the amount of RED devices that you are buying. But generally speaking the RED 50 costs twice as much as the RED 10.

  • The RED 10 retails for around $350
  • The RED 50 retails for around $800

** Pricing based on South African distribution rates as of June 2015.

This is a once off cost. There is no annual subscription fee on RED itself. You are effectively licensed for RED by licensing your UTM. The devices carry a 1 year warranty.

 

Conclusion

Hopefully this article helps you make an informed decision as to whether your remote site exceeds the capabilities of the RED 10, requiring the RED 50. Your deciding criteria may also be based on your Sophos UTM configuration and required redundancy.

The RED 10 is a great little device. I use one paired with a Sophos AP 15 at home. It works really well for my home office with multiple devices.

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