NetSweeper Enterprise Filter
Strengths: Dynamic URL filtering can analyse content on the fly
Weaknesses: Difficult to configure and manage
Verdict: A start-from-scratch product that requires a lot of configuration, and of average value
The NetSweeper Enterprise filter is in its simplest form a URL filter. However, this is not by any means like the archaic web filters of a few years ago. This uses dynamic filtering capabilities to analyse and categorise sites, based on its proprietary categorisation engine that will review the content of the page and assign a category in less than a second. This near real-time event will allow the request to be dealt with appropriately and immediately. It can do IM and peer-to-peer application-blocking.
We found this product quite difficult to set up and manage. The product itself was an ISO that we downloaded from the vendor and then burned to a CD. This ISO contains the NetSweeper server installation and we were required to use our own hardware for the install. Once the server is installed, all management is done through a web interface called WebAdmin. However, this interface is very confusing and we had a lot of trouble with configuring the product and the policy server. The bottom line is that this takes a lot of experimenting and reading of the documentation to get up and running.
This product can be integrated directly in to the existing environment and it can work with many devices and directories already deployed: such as Microsoft Windows and Novell Netware directory services, to offer per-user filtering; and RAS services, to offer mobile users the same filtering services as fixed LAN users.
Documentation provided with this product includes a PDF quick-start guide and PDF WebAdmin guide. The quick-start guide explains different deployment scenarios and how to configure the appliance NICs for bridge mode, while the WebAdmin guide details configuring and using the product and the WebAdmin interface. The WebAdmin guide includes many screenshots, examples and step-by-step instructions.
NetSweeper offers phone and email basic and premium levels of support. Customers can access a support portal for product downloads and a knowledgebase.
With prices starting at £20 per user, this product is average value. It has a lot of hidden costs, both in hardware and administration, because of the difficulty in deploying and managing it.