Strengths: This product offers a good amount of protection at a reasonable price
Weaknesses: Difficult to manage with a lot of configuration involved
Verdict: A competent product that requires an investment in set up and management to do it justice
SmoothWall breaks its products down into four feature sets: firewall, VPN, email security and web security. The email security set includes features such as anti-spam, anti-virus and mail relay and control. Web security encompasses web content filtering, anti-virus, anti-spyware and browser-exploit detection.
We found this product to be reasonably simple to use. There was no initial set-up wizard, so deployment is guided by the quick-start guide. While the steps are short, we felt that it would have been easier to have a wizard. The web GUI for this device is typical: areas can be accessed either by using a drop menu or using the links across the top. We found navigating the interface to be awkward at times.
This device comes out of the box 99 per cent unconfigured. We found managing and setting up the device to be quite a task. Although the absence of preconfiguration allows for full customisation of options, it also has a higher potential for human error, which could leave the network vulnerable.
This product includes a getting started guide and an administration manual. The getting started guide lays out a few steps to get the product up on the network and running. The administration guide goes into detail about configuring and managing the device. The administration guide is well set out and illustrates the configuration of the device components very well. It also features many screenshots and step-by-step procedures.
Support contracts from SmoothWall offer combinations of telephone and email support, software updates and major new versions, with the option for next business day hardware advance replacement (in the US and the European Union). SmoothWall Reseller Partners can provide on-site installation, support and consultancy services. Downloads, manuals, a knowledge base and a FAQ are available via the website.
The SmoothGuard is priced at £2,750. It offers a fair bit of functionality for the price, athough we found this product to be somewhat difficult to set up and manage. That, of course, affects the overall cost of ownership, which may reduce the value somewhat. Furthermore, it supports up to 1,000 workstations per appliance and, for very large deployments, it is necessary to install additional appliances.