Cymphonix Network Composer
Strengths: Good feature set with many predefined policies and groups.
Weaknesses: Average documentation and requires clients to be deployed for Active Directory use.
Verdict: A reasonable product with good capabilities at a reasonable price.
SummaryThe Cymphonix Network Composer brings together critical web protection into one product. This product not only features URL and web filtering, but also many traffic shaping and application controls. This product can control or block access to many peer-to-peer and IM and chat applications, as well as games and VoIP. This product also features protection against spyware and a spyware scanning and removal tool that users can access to quickly clean up spyware.
To get this product running in the network is a snap. The initial setup is guided by an easy to follow setup wizard. Once initial setup is complete, the device is set inline between the firewall and a network switch. We found this product to be fairly easy to manage. However there are some tricky aspects to managing users. In order to use Active Directory as an authentication method for managing users and groups, clients need to run on all machines. These clients run at startup and a script needs to be written and deployed via group policy. The web GUI is simple and intuitive to navigate and policy management is also quite easy.
The Network Composer comes loaded with not only predefined policies, but many predefined groups as well. 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 also create custom policies designed for different times and different days during the week, so policies can become as broad or granular as needed.
Documentation for this product is fairly average. There is an easy to follow quick start guide provided. It illustrates initial setup quite well and provides 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 rather than configuration. We found we had to read some parts a couple of times because most of the documentation is written as paragraphs rather than step by step.
Cymphonix does offer phone support to customers from 7 a.m. - 5 p.m. Mountain Time, as well as email support. Email requests are usually answered within 24 hours. Other than phone and email, the website does have a knowledge base as well.
At a price of just under $5,000, this product is an 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.