Strengths: Easy to deploy with many policy options
Weaknesses: Difficult to manage, could be expensive for large environments
Verdict: A comprehensive product, but can become expensive as web filters go
The Cymphonix Network Composer provides: web filtering and bandwidth shaping for HTTP and encrypted SSL traffic, based on URL pattern; and domain or content category using database lookup and dynamic content analysis. Policy compliance is enhanced using filter avoidance protection for port hopping, and anonymous proxy blocking. It also provides file-type download and application control including P2P, update services, IM and streaming media.
This product installs quite quickly and setup is guided by an easy-to-follow setup wizard. This wizard not only assists in customising the device for the environment but also gathers and installs all updates at its completion.
After setup is complete, management is done through the web interface. This interface has three main tabs that open sub-categories. The tabs are Reports, Manage and Admin. At first, while navigating the tabs, we found ourselves confused about where to find configuration options. Is it Manage or Admin? After spending some time with the device it became clearer, but there was a slight learning curve.
This product can integrate with the already existing Active Directory, eDirectory and LDAP user databases for policy creation and management, which provides easy plug-in to the environment without having to create new groups or users.
However, the integration with Active Directory requires an extra step of deploying an agent on to the domain controller, which could be a problem in some environments.
Documentation for this product includes a paper quick-start guide and a PDF user guide. The quick-start guide outlines network placement of the device and a short section on getting to the setup wizard. The user guide provides a higher level of detail, with detailed installation and setup instructions. This guide has many screenshots and diagrams.
One year free maintenance is included, with further, paid-for options. There is also a support area on the website.
At a price of about £1,695 for the 5Mbps DC20 version, this product is average value for money. It does have nice features, but it could become quite pricey for larger installations.