Strengths: Easy-to-use, comprehensive approach to web content management
Weaknesses: Can be expensive for smaller environments
Verdict: An appliance with a comprehensive three-stage approach to managing web content
The Sophos WS1000 looks at web content management in three segments. The first is through a URL/reputation filter that includes a database of 54 categories covering four billion pages in 200 languages. This is supplemented by a database of sites currently hosting malware. The second is a real-time malware scanner that blocks all malware, adware and unwanted applications in real-time. The third is content control, which provides real-time content-analysis sorts and controls access to 32 unique content types. Organisations specify appropriate browsing by content type, such as streaming media, executables and MS Office files.
This appliance was easy to use right out of the box. The initial setup is done by connecting the appliance to a management computer and browsing to the preconfigured IP address using a web browser. An easy-to-follow setup wizard not only helped us configure the IP settings but also put a default policy in place. At the conclusion of the setup wizard, the appliance updates itself and it is ready to go. All management is done using the intuitive web-based GUI.
This appliance can also easily integrate with Active Directory 2008, 2003 and 2000, which makes assigning policies easy and efficient. Policy configuration was simple and intuitive, while still being granular and controllable.
Documentation is provided in a quick-start guide that illustrates basic setup and access to the appliance. An administrator guide can be found on the appliance once everything is up and running. This can be downloaded from the appliance in PDF form and saved for later reference. This guide gives an in-depth look at configuration and features in a well-organised fashion.
Sophos offers standard phone and email support 24/7/365 included in the licence fee of the appliance. Other support options can be purchased as part of a maintenance contract. Customers can also access the free support area of the website, where they can find a knowledgebase, product downloads and updates.
With a price starting at £4,295, this is not at the cheap end of the price spectrum, but it is good value for the money. This appliance is packed with solid features and has very little administration or learning curve overhead.