Strengths: Good feature set with many predefined policies and groups
Weaknesses: Average documentation, requires clients to be deployed for Active Directory use
Verdict: A reasonable product with good capabilities at a reasonable price
Network Composer from Cymphonix brings together critical web protection aspects into one product. It not only features URL and web filtering, but also many traffic-shaping and application controls. This device can control or block access to many peer-to-peer and IM and chat applications, as well as games and VoIP. On top of that, it features protection against spyware and a tool to scan for and remove spyware.
To get this product running in the network is a snap. The initial setup is guided by an easy-to-follow wizard. Once initial setup is complete, the appliance is set inline between the firewall and a network switch. We found this solution to be fairly easy to manage. However, there are some tricky aspects when it comes to managing users. In order to use Active Directory to authenticate users and groups, clients need to be present on all machines. These clients run at startup and a script has to be written and deployed via group policy. The web GUI is simple and intuitive to navigate, and policy management is easy.
The Network Composer comes loaded with predefined policies as well as many predefined groups. This makes slotting in users and groups to a proper filtering group easy, with little possibility of giving too much or too little access to the internet and applications. The policy engine can create custom policies designed for different times and days, so policies can become as broad or granular as needed.
Documentation is fairly average. There is an easy-to-follow quick-start guide with step-by-step configuration and deployment instructions. The user guide does a good job of defining different features or configurations; however, we found that there is more emphasis on definitions than on configuration. We had to reread some parts a couple of times because most of the documentation is written as paragraphs rather than step-by-step instructions.
Cymphonix offers phone support to customers during office hours as well as email assistance. Email requests are usually answered within 24 hours. The website does have a knowledge base as well.
At a price of around £2,500, this product is average value for the money. While it does have a fairly comprehensive feature set, getting the most out of it requires a lot of extra configuration.