St Bernard iPrism M3100
Strengths: Easy to set up and manage, flexible policies, strong documentation
Weaknesses: Missed some of our test sites, a bit pricey
Verdict: With several levels of this product - the M3100 being the largest - there is an iPrism for every size organisation. Worth looking closely at
The St Bernard iPrism M3100 is an appliance that provides a reasonably wide range of web content filtering related features. Using access-control lists, the device allows real granularity in how and when the internet can be accessed. For example, by using access-control lists, various rule sets can be applied to different days of the week and specific times. The architecture of the appliance can be pass-through or proxy.
The product provides both content and URL filtering, as well as instant messaging and peer-to-peer blocking. We thought the iPrism's performance was a bit disappointing. Despite the website's claim that the "one-hundred-per-cent human-reviewed database is the most accurate in the industry", we found that the appliance missed some gambling and gaming sites even when we set it to block them.
St Bernard's offering shines in two particular areas: documentation and ease of use. The former is thorough and consists of an installation guide and a quick setup guide. Both are clearly written, loaded with screen shots and make effective use of step-by-step instructions.
There are other manuals, such as an administrator's guide, available as well. All are of the same high quality whether provided as paper or pdf format.
Deployment is simple and, as with most such products, makes extensive use of wizards to simplify the process. Management and setup programs are Java-based, and the management utility is intuitive and straightforward to use. The various filter options are easy to use and are reasonably flexible.
Support for this product is good and is available by phone from midnight to 4pm Pacific time. The dedicated website contains the usual collection of knowledge base, support requests, and similar offerings.
St Bernard iPrism M3100 is priced at the upper end of the spectrum. However, this model - the high-end - supports networks of more than 1,000 workstations. Furthermore, multiple iPrism appliances can be used in a distributed environment, connecting through the optional Enterprise Reporting Server for iPrism.
Overall, the iPrism M3100 scores highly for the level of documentation supplied and the ease of use. However, the cost and performance issues let it down.