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Network and Classroom Management Thread, Bloxx V School Guardian in Technical; Hello, I am looking to replace my web-filtering solution and am very impressed with the functionality of Bloxx. However, the ...
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    Bloxx V School Guardian

    Hello,

    I am looking to replace my web-filtering solution and am very impressed with the functionality of Bloxx. However, the price is a bit prohibitive.

    How does School Guardian stack up and how much does it cost (generally) for a 1 year/3 year all-in agreement?

    We will need to support a maximum of 250 concurrent users.
    Last edited by park_bench; 10th October 2008 at 03:28 PM. Reason: More detail added

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    ChrisH's Avatar
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    This should be interesting I have heard all the banter from each side, about their competitors at Bett

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    tom_newton's Avatar
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    Chris: I'm not going to get into any banter on here... but I know which side you picked

    Had a pint with a few of the Bloxx guys at BETT last year, they used to really avoid us but they seem to be coming round to the idea of a bit of friendly competition between gentlemen ;-P

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    Replied to author in PM

    **Evil Laugh**

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    park_bench (13th October 2008)

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    Quote Originally Posted by park_bench View Post
    Hello,

    I am looking to replace my web-filtering solution and am very impressed with the functionality of Bloxx. However, the price is a bit prohibitive.

    How does School Guardian stack up and how much does it cost (generally) for a 1 year/3 year all-in agreement?

    We will need to support a maximum of 250 concurrent users.
    Bloxx is outragously expensive

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    I trialled one of smoothwalls products, cant remember which one it was, but it had every feature we needed and more. Thats the question, what features do you need? I like it alot but it was just abit too expensive when we already have a proxy provided to us with our RBC WAN link and that is all we actually need as the firewall rules are set on RBC provided and managed router.

    Ive ran a modded smoothwall express as my router at home now for 3 years, never had a single minute of downtime in that time (wish i could say the same for the schools proxy). Incidently ive recently moved to ipCop as i needed a strange AV/content filter rule which smoothwalls web GUI wasnt capible of doing. Ive now had 2 incidents where services have not started and ive really had to crank the handle to get them going again. Ill deffinatly be moving back to smoothwall soon as my its well overdue time to replace the hardware it is running on anyway, plus now i know its possible to get the configuation i need i will simply SSH in and set them myself.
    Last edited by j17sparky; 10th October 2008 at 07:19 PM.

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    park_bench (13th October 2008)

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    tom_newton's Avatar
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    Sparky - its about time we did some more work on express - what odd setup was it you needed?

    Of course if the OP (or anyone else) wants to trial Smoothie, that can be easily arranged!

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    I looked at Bloxx before buying Smoothwall for my school .. Bloxx came out more expensive than Websense so thats saying something!!

    I have been very happy with our School Guardian proxy since its gone in but never trialled or seen Bloxx in action so can't compare the two.

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    We have BLOXX installed here and I have to say we are very pleased with the system. We did look at all the other solutions out there but prefered the functionality of BLOXX.

    The web filter is also really impressive as is the TRUE-VIEW technology which in our experience can correctly categorise a website about 8 out of 10 times. Anonymous proxies here are a thing of the past as BLOXX is very reliable when it comes to blocking these.

    The only criticism I have with the unit is that its very L-O-U-D

    If you have any other questions regarding BLOXX just ask and I will try to answer them as best I can.

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    I compared prices on SmothWall, Websense and NetSweeper as these were the three Becta accredited solutions.

    I opted for a SmoothWall UTM-1000 appliance in the end. This worked out significantly cheaper than all the others, despite being a hardware solution - I would have had to factor in additional hardware for the otehrs!

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    Quote Originally Posted by AngryITGuy View Post
    We have BLOXX installed here and I have to say we are very pleased with the system. We did look at all the other solutions out there but prefered the functionality of BLOXX.

    The web filter is also really impressive as is the TRUE-VIEW technology which in our experience can correctly categorise a website about 8 out of 10 times. Anonymous proxies here are a thing of the past as BLOXX is very reliable when it comes to blocking these.

    The only criticism I have with the unit is that its very L-O-U-D

    If you have any other questions regarding BLOXX just ask and I will try to answer them as best I can.

    I confirm the feedback of AngryITGuy. For Anonymous Proxies, School Guardian use Dynamic Content Analysis but Bloxx use their Tru-View technology (live analysis and real time scanning) and this is very reliable to block students

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    Aurora: there's no "but" about it We have been dynamically analyzing sites since most solutions were thinking about making the distinctions between domain and URL

    Our proxy performance is something I am particularly pleased with - recently we seem to have been ahead of the proxy sites, and manage to pick them off with content and certificate analysis before they start.

    Of particular interest: www.beyondblox46.info is new today, but of course is taken out by the content filter immediately.

    Further edit: Aurora, I may be *completely* off-base here, but would it not be prudent to let folks know you are in IT Sales rather than a School Network type. Something subtle (like my sig!) would help let folk know where you're coming from. Apologies if I misunderstand your profile!
    Last edited by tom_newton; 13th October 2008 at 01:55 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tom_newton View Post
    Aurora: there's no "but" about it We have been dynamically analyzing sites since most solutions were thinking about making the distinctions between domain and URL

    Our proxy performance is something I am particularly pleased with - recently we seem to have been ahead of the proxy sites, and manage to pick them off with content and certificate analysis before they start.

    Of particular interest: BeyondBlox46 a Free Proxy Site is new today, but of course is taken out by the content filter immediately.

    Further edit: Aurora, I may be *completely* off-base here, but would it not be prudent to let folks know you are in IT Sales rather than a School Network type. Something subtle (like my sig!) would help let folk know where you're coming from. Apologies if I misunderstand your profile!
    I agree, there is no "but" :-). By experience all solutions provide good results otherwise they will not be on the market. Regarding SG or Bloxx, it depends if you want to go for an appliance or a software, everything depend on how you use it, both of them provide reliable results.

    I'm in IT sales and I've subscribed today when I saw the post on the forum as I can help you if you need pricing information. Let me know if you are still looking for it.

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    I've documented about Bloxx before, but I will update now that we have finished our dealings with them. Basically, this was the reason why we went for Bloxx in the first place. To cut the long story short, I-Gear died, we were desperate for filtering, Bloxx, by total coincidence, called and we brought it. Turned out to be a big mistake!

    First and foremost, and I was not aware of the costs at the time. We were sold the TVT-500 as opposed to being given any other option. That's £5000 for what is essentially a box with an Intel Dual Core (not Core 2 Duo) 2Ghz CPU and 1Gb RAM. Worse than any PC I have sat in the office and worse than most we have in classrooms! The price does include the 1st year maintenance (about £1600) and then we also had advance replacement (next day replacement of a faulty TVT-500) of around £820. So we paid nearly £6000.

    It all started off OK, but despite block lists being updated "every night @ 2am" more and more sites were not being caught. It got to the stage where we felt proxy avoidance sites may as well not have been blocked. In the last few weeks I have had nearly 10 sites reported to me by teachers that were automatically blocked in Smoothwall's block lists yet not caught at all by Bloxx. I had Smoothwall running live earlier this week before I had to take it down to move from Hyper-V to VMWare. At which point I put everyone back on Bloxx and it was like the floodgates had opened! Just trolling through AB Tutor I noticed chat sites, proxy avoidance sites being used all over the place. Infact, one of the proxy avoidance sites was called "proxywebsite.us" - Tru-View Real Time filtering? I don't think so! I can understand certain things getting missed out, but proxywebsite.us? How much more blatant do you want to get?

    Got VMWare and Smoothwall running again within a few hours and it's all under control again. Hardly anyone able to get through to proxy sites and blocking being done effectively.

    And then there is support... I've never been able to get to Bloxx support directly. Always had to wait for a call back and I have called a lot of times. And when they do call you back, you are either too busy dealing with something else or you have long since sorted the problem yourself. Add to this there is no customer call logging at all with Bloxx. With Smoothwall, I am yet to "wait" for a support call, always been able to get through to someone technical straight away and have always been given a full log of the problem during and after resolution of the case.

    Managing Multiple Domains: Surprisingly enough this was something Bloxx could do that Smoothwall couldn't. Infact, it was the biggest stumbling block for us going to Smoothwall until I was told we can run another NG for free and Virtualise it. So not only am I now able to spread the load across 2 different NGs, if either one went down the other is unlikely to be affected and I've learnt a whole load about Hyper-V and VMWare in getting it working. I am told that multiple domain support is something that will be looked at in a future feature pack, but I like it this way and virtualisation is so damn cool too!

    The web console with NG is so much easier to use and get used to as opposed to Bloxx. It took me a few hours to get the hang of the NG web console and yet the Bloxx console is still a mystery as to what some of the buttons actually do! Also, the updates make changes and we weren't informed of when or what any updates did or what changes were made.

    Also, and this is a very important factor, anytime you make a change in AD or on the actual NG, a simple soft restart of the proxy (take a few seconds) and the change is instantly implemented. With Bloxx, we've always needed to do a manual forced LDAP import and even then I've noticed, in our experience, it can take upto 15mins to even a few hours to propagate the changes. Not good when you want to block or unblock a particular site fast.

    So, all in all, our experiences with Bloxx haven't been so good. They are better than some of the products out there, Symantec Web Security (the artist formally known as I-Gear!) for example, but for the amount they charge, the product and support just doesn't live up to the billing.

    Definately a vote for Smoothwall from me, if it wasn't clear enough already!

  17. Thanks to Zoom7000 from:

    tom_newton (16th October 2008)

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    Thanks for the vote of confidence! I know yours has not been the simplest of migrations - HyperV support is still in its infancy (OK, Microsoft, meet Linux... oh wait.. ) and support for multiple domains is high on the list of "things to add to SmoothAuth" - OTOH, load balancing is pretty useful!

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