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Internet Related/Filtering/Firewall Thread, Smoothwall Support - Your comments? in Technical; Originally Posted by SmoothSupporter I do take pride in the comments that the quality of our support team is up ...
  1. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by SmoothSupporter View Post
    I do take pride in the comments that the quality of our support team is up there with the best, we will never sacrifice that quality but I can commit to you that we will improve the speed of our service.
    Ultimately that's the bottom line and the root of the issue.

    Keeping the current quality of support when you get to speak to someone Vs having enough people doing support to get to speak to someone quickly.

    Training people up takes time, especially to get to the levels of the people currently on support who know the product inside out. You don't usually pluck people like that off the street, it takes time.


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    Quote Originally Posted by RTFM View Post
    Ultimately that's the bottom line and the root of the issue.

    Keeping the current quality of support when you get to speak to someone Vs having enough people doing support to get to speak to someone quickly.

    Training people up takes time, especially to get to the levels of the people currently on support who know the product inside out. You don't usually pluck people like that off the street, it takes time.

    While I agree and understand what you are saying, that doesn't offer much help when SMT are breathing down your neck to resolve issues that staff are coming to them with because it has taken so long to resolve an issue or in some instances remain un-resolved for significant periods (one call open since September). They then question why we have chosen a product which up until now hasn't fulfilled our requirements because it lacks the support etc.

    EDIT* not implying that SMT do not support our judgement on buying smoothwall from a technical and capability aspect (from that sense its very good) but question the support of a product which is a market leader, and when we have committed to a contract term.
    Last edited by Max_Power; 4th December 2012 at 07:58 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Power View Post
    While I agree and understand what you are saying, that doesn't offer much help when SMT are breathing down your neck to resolve issues that staff are coming to them with because it has taken so long to resolve an issue or in some instances remain un-resolved for significant periods (one call open since September). They then question why we have chosen a product which up until now hasn't fulfilled our requirements and lacks the support etc.
    What sort of issues are staff coming to you with that you can't fix inhouse? Unblocking websites for example is a pretty standard one we get a lot from staff which we get done ourselves.......beyond that it isn't fulfilling staff requirements which we have any issues with, it's bigger issues with things like iOS support and tweaking things like that to change the way we work which is usually driven from within IT support and SMT.....

    That's not me having a go by the way, its a genuine question (i re-read it and thought it might come across wrong with saying this!!).

    Without wanting to sound patronising, we've had smoothwall nearly 3 years, if you want to drop me a PM i'll be happy to offer any advice if I can which might help....depending on what the issue is that is!!!! Haha

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    An example of the current long standing issue we are having is that we are unable to report on a users activity for that exact moment in time, via the logs and reports > logs > web filter and then filtering the log via username. The reports never compile and time out giving no results. We are able to generate a full report for a specific user for under logs and reports > reports > user analysis but these reports can take 40 minutes to generate (last report ran for a 15 minute window of activity for a specific user) which isn't good enough.

    As well as being able to monitor the student we find it useful in order to analyse why certain sites are blocked and which category they are being blocked by etc. 40minutes minutes to look why a particular site is being blocked because we have to generate a full report isn't good. An example includes the telegraph news paper being permitted but some students suggest aspects are blocked, therefore we need to audit the activity in order to see which category is blocking that particular aspect of the site.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Power View Post
    As well as being able to monitor the student we find it useful in order to analyse why certain sites are blocked and which category they are being blocked by etc. 40minutes minutes to look why a particular site is being blocked because we have to generate a full report isn't good. An example includes the telegraph news paper being permitted but some students suggest aspects are blocked, therefore we need to audit the activity in order to see which category is blocking that particular aspect of the site.
    You don't need to generate a report to do that, you can see it in real time. We hardly ever generate reports for unblocking sites and getting things working, we do it all through the real time filter. It'll be that there is some content being pulled which is hitting a block policy, the URL it is being pulled from will likely need allowing for the content to display.

    It's easy enough to test this with a test pupil account, see whats being blocked in the real time filter then start allowing things until it works, then work backwards to see what worked / didnt work and go from there. It's how we usually do it

    The reporting in Smoothwall is one thing we dont particularly use, but then dont particularly like either. We tend to only generate reports when we have issues, or are specifically asked to do so.

  6. #21

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    It's sad to hear there are problems with support as SW is on our list for possibly replacing our current solution in a 18 months time.

    We hardly ever use support services, it's almost always when we haev totaly exhausted all possible options, often we have a better idea of the problem than 1st line support ( took me 50 mins on the phone on friday to get our current filtering provider to understand that their own system was not working correctly and it was not just us being silly!

    Hopefully things will improve.

    Rob

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    Quote Originally Posted by RTFM View Post
    You don't need to generate a report to do that, you can see it in real time. We hardly ever generate reports for unblocking sites and getting things working, we do it all through the real time filter. It'll be that there is some content being pulled which is hitting a block policy, the URL it is being pulled from will likely need allowing for the content to display.

    It's easy enough to test this with a test pupil account, see whats being blocked in the real time filter then start allowing things until it works, then work backwards to see what worked / didnt work and go from there. It's how we usually do it

    The reporting in Smoothwall is one thing we dont particularly use, but then dont particularly like either. We tend to only generate reports when we have issues, or are specifically asked to do so.
    While i am able to do as you suggest and do so frequently the live monitor doesnt always come back with information and hangs, also the issue comes when staff and students request for a blocked page to be unblocked and we get around to it say a day later, they say the telegraph doesn't work, when in reality it does and we need to trawl back and test and look for a specific page that's being blocked.

    We dont always have time to log in as a student user to test out websites. The smoothwall was new in summer, and I understand there will be teething problems related to the unblocking of things required, however it just seems to be a painful task at the moment.
    We generally can receive around 15 requests a day to unblock sites and we have asked for more information on how to allow specifics more efficiently as a result.
    An example being during PHSE lessons the students are asked to find out information on certain drugs, but we obviously don't want to allow the websites that sell them. So a best practice for instances such as that would be useful.

    Under no illusions that some aspects are quite possibly training related or at least require a conversation on how to get the best out of smoothwall for what we want, but at the moment that isn't forthcoming, despite asking the questions.

    Smoothwall was the best product on the market when we reviewed content filtering and protection etc but it feels like its a battle at the moment.

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    Logged a call 27/11/12, got a ref, no further contact.

    Come on Smoothy, sort yourselves out!

    We've used SchoolGuardian for years now and I've always recommended SmoothWall to potential customers. Every problem we've had has been due to the database and reporting systems, the latest issue being Postgres bogging down.

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    We eventually got a call back today from Tanya who was very helpful and sorted the issue for us.

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    Unfoprtunately I do have to say that I feel the support has got worse of late. Smoothwall used to be my joint top techncall support but of late it's been a bit below par...

    Sorry to say.

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    Sadly I have just had to complain to our Account Manager about waiting so long to get a human response to a logged call.

    It seems there has been a revamp, as below; this is the first I had heard about this.

    Service Availability
    And Performance Local Hours

    P1 : 2 hour response, fix < 2 days
    P2 : 4 hour response, fix < 3 days
    P3 : Fix < 10 days

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    Quote Originally Posted by Timeout View Post
    Sadly I have just had to complain to our Account Manager about waiting so long to get a human response to a logged call.

    It seems there has been a revamp, as below; this is the first I had heard about this.

    Service Availability
    And Performance Local Hours

    P1 : 2 hour response, fix < 2 days
    P2 : 4 hour response, fix < 3 days
    P3 : Fix < 10 days
    2 day fix for a P1 is interesting. No internet for 2 days would be interesting to try to explain to SLT

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    we had problems post upgrade to G3, the main bug bear is the UI which is better than G2 but some items just dont flow or make sense.
    the "only use chrome" browser message for best performance i think is a backward step it should work well in all browsers
    some of the clever items on the UI are still rather laggy which can be frustrating (adding/viewing block lists etc)

    an example the lookup functions for the block lists turns a simple task into a lag fest of waiting for it to populate

    Documentation is/was referring to the older versions which makes navigating the new UI more difficult, but this seems to have been glossed over to some extent.
    its a powerful product but with shortcomings which make it lack lustre to use. needs more polish for a premium product

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    Quote Originally Posted by pantscat View Post
    In fact that's just reminded me that I've got a case logged that's now 13 days old...
    Quote Originally Posted by sjl View Post
    I logged a call two weeks ago for an issue with our database but have had no contact. I have tried updating the ticket to see if that sparks activity, i can't get through via telephone either. It's a surprise as they have always provided great support - probably one of the best technical support services I have come across.
    I feel sorry that you have wait more than 1 week for support. I hope you guys get your issues resolved.

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    Its actually quite refreshing to see that Smoothwall are not just ignoring us! We had some issues with Sketchup and I rang 3 times in 1 week and nobody got back to me, in the end my manager rang and insisted on it being done there and then as we had people from a local university coming in to do some training with Sketchup that day.

    However, as many of you have mentioned, when you get help they are bloody good.

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