Netsweeper Enterprise Filter
Strengths: Dynamic URL filtering can analyze content on the fly.
Weaknesses: Difficult to configure and manage.
Verdict: A start-from-scratch product that requires a lot of configuration.
SummaryThe Netsweeper Enterprise Filter is, in its simplest form, a URL filter. However, this URL filter is not by any means like the archaic web filters that we saw several years ago. This filter uses dynamic filtering capabilities to analyze and categorize sites based on Netsweeper's proprietary categorization engine that will review the content of the page and assign a category in less than one second. This near real-time event will allow the request to then be dealt with appropriately and immediately. This product can do IM and peer-to-peer application blocking, as well.
We found this product to be quite difficult to set up and manage. The tool itself was an ISO that we downloaded from the vendor and then burned to a CD. This ISO contains the Netsweeper server installation, and we were required to use our own hardware for the install. Once the server is installed, all management is done through a web interface called WebAdmin. However, this interface is confusing and we had a lot of trouble with configuring the product and the policy server. Bottom line here is this product takes a lot of experimenting and reading of the documentation to get up and running.
This product can be integrated directly into the existing environment and it can work with many devices and directories already deployed, such as Microsoft Windows and Novell Directory Services, to offer per user filtering and RAS services. This provides mobile users the same filtering services as fixed LAN users.
Documentation provided with this product includes a PDF quick-start guide and PDF WebAdmin guide. The quick-start guide explains different deployment scenarios and how to configure the appliance NICs for bridge mode, while the WebAdmin guide details configuring and using the product and the WebAdmin interface. The WebAdmin guide includes many screen shots, configuration examples and step-by-step instructions.
Netsweeper offers phone and email basic and premium levels of support. Basic is provided to all Netsweeper clients from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST Monday to Friday (excluding holidays). Premium level is provided 24/7.
With prices starting at $40 per user at the 25 user level, we find this product to be an average value for the money. This product has a lot of hidden costs, such as hardware and administrative cost, because of the difficulty in deploying and managing.