dhicks (26th February 2013)
*Definitely* manually set it on key hardware ... I had to deal with this for over 40 schools when they had new Cisco routers put in ... let's just say that there was a lot of frustration out there because of it.
dhicks (26th February 2013)
My SW renewal is up in June and although I have been a customer for 6 years I am thinking of jumping ship. The reporting isnt easy to read, the firewall logs are just baffling and the https stuff....geez. getting Skype through is a pain. Oh and their new support website is awful....sorry it is, there is hardly any articles on it and the search facility is pants. There, feel better now. On the positive side, the timed filtering is ace, especially for us in a boarding school, false positives are few and far between and its pretty much install and forget. My biggest issue now is it doesn't feel like its moved on, it still reminds me of smoothwall 1, a fanboys project. Yes the filtering is second to none but what I want is it to be easy to use.
Onto lightspeed, can't comment. I have tried a few times to talk to them but they never get back....maybe its the filtering companies way. I don't like the idea of the client install, it having to fork out for a new firewall but if it does the job simpler and as effective as SW I will be tempted. Need a demo though.
Ps. If SW are increasing their support costs for the same service then I can't see me staying loyal.
Jollity (26th February 2013)
We have been with Smoothwall coming up 3 years and feel very similar to how you do about it. As a filter it does the job well, in terms of reporting its a quagmire and it takes up more time than it should in administration.
I don't really see the big issue with the client install personally.
As for spending on a new firewall, we could have kept our Smoothwall firewall but frankly it isn't even in the same league as the sonicwall device we trialled and subsequently purchased today.
Last edited by RTFM; 26th February 2013 at 10:40 PM.
As posted earlier on a new Firewall is in development for Smoothwall and a new reporting engine is also due as they have accepted that its not up to the required standards (sorry guys but you know it is as well as me!) and that is much better than the current one which is having its moments for some users as has been posted on here before. Having seem some bits of the new reporting system and talking to the developers it is going to be a major improvement and much quicker at processing data which it needs to be given the thirst for online resources.
The new support site, must admit I am not a fan of it at all and I would go as far as saying it was a bad move IMHO, I absolutely hate it and dread having to use it (and I have to use some rotten "helpdesk" including one company that thinks a wordpress blog comment system is a "helpdesk"!!?).
My past tickets which are useful sources of info for me are missing a lot of responses and details I found the other day when looking for some info that I knew was in an old case from ages ago, its unfriendly and unintuitive so I do think a try again is needed on that there are products much better out there to be used so I do think they got that wrong and should re-look at that, however I would prefer them to get more staff onto the phones and email support for everyone's benefit, but it could be a double edged sword that if we had the old system which had a lot of very good KBs (albeit dating due to the new systems and upgrades) when you dug through then you might not actually need to call up....
(See I can also be critical of Smoothwall for those who keep saying all I ever do is praise them they don't get everything right it is how they respond when they get it wrong and how they work with customers over problems)
Jollity (1st March 2013)
Agreed on the helpdesk front, its a complete waste of time, I ended up closing a support ticket that I made because i became so disheartened waiting for a reply, my account manager asked me to email her if I didn't get a reply in a few days, so I emailed her and she never replied to me. I really liked Smoothwall for the first year we used it, the support staff were nice and helpful and my account manager would call me up to see how I was getting on but now, I get the impression from the comments I read that they have forgotten about the end users. I just want Smoothwall to go back to the old days. We are due for renewal very soon and I have been paying close attention to this thread for an alternative, but I just wont have the time to try anything new so we will be with Smoothwall for another year, I really hope they get things sorted.
Smoothwall have been honest and said they are putting more staff on support that will help once they start. Surprised that your account manager hasn't been in touch though that is not like them. Maybe worth dropping them another line to see if they can assist you further :-)
That issue resolved its self anyway but its more the point that they never got back to me that bothers me. Yeah I read the post about getting more support staff, in fact I predicted it due to the increase in support renewal, which will go towards new staff wages.
I look forward to some more pleasant experiences with Smoothie.
I am on my 4th account manager in nearly 3 years though lol, but I'm not sure if thats them or me.
Just wanted to pop in to add something - I had a sneak preview of some of the new Smoothwall UI at BETT and I was quite impressed! The log viewer can show live updates, as well as allowing you to pause it and show certain date/time ranges. It also lets you filter, sort and (I think) change the columns, which also apply when you unpause it, so you can very easily have the live logs only showing up entries that match attemps to get to edugeek.net or something. It's still a work in progress, but is looking good
Jollity (27th February 2013)
Previous posters are correct in observing that the reporting system is no longer robust enough for the needs of our customers and we have invested a lot of development resource into developing a complete replacement - this is due to begin phased roll out in the next couple of months. At present I have no definitive dates but it is incoming.
Gaz (27th February 2013)
Does anyone use either smoothwall or lightspeed to shape traffic? What speed Internet are you shaping, how many students and is your solution effective?
We have 10Mb leased line for 400 students in a boarding school. We are looking at both Lightspeed and Smoothwall. I think I prefer the Lightspeed solution, but I don't think it does the shaping so might be a no go.
Lightspeed does do traffic shaping but we havent used it in our trial and wont be in reality when it's installed.
The Sonicwall firewall we have trialled and purchased does do full traffic shaping, you can do this by group, subnet, specific ip and against specific url's or just say 'this subnet receives this much bandwidth' etc. It's much more flexible and granular than either the lightspeed or smoothwall systems and very powerful (like i said though, I havent actually used the lightspeed offering so it's just an opinion from what i've seen of it which isn't a lot).
Last edited by RTFM; 27th February 2013 at 06:13 PM.
To make this subject easier to manage (for those who need simplicity), and to help protect those users actually working or completing online exams etc, the lightspeed appliance takes a different approach to bandwidth management.
The appliance lets you set thresholds of line usage e.g 80%, then blocks new connections with a custom message, unless the user is going to categories in an exception list (i.e Education, Online Exams etc). As the appliance is a layer 2 bridge it inspects all TCP and UDP connections, so has the complete bandwidth picture rather than just WEB traffic.
Its a 2 step setup.
Just to offer alternatives we use CpitalBytes (netsweeper) which is really good and includes AD integration, transparent proxy etc, header adaption for youtube schools all through a GUI (don't have a price yet as we are beta) and Barracuda also offer a solution which is £1750 for five years for our school of 600 pupils KS12 (not tried it but based on EMC tech apparently)
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