Phil Nayebi, systems manager for Miller Castings Inc., a Los Angeles-based casting foundry that primarily makes metal parts for jet engines, says he likes the new reporting features, particularly the graphs that show a breakdown on the amount of bandwidth each user is using. Previously, the company was using a Microsoft product that didn't have a graphing feature. "When they asked me for reports, I had to give them 50-page Microsoft Excel spreadsheet files, so this is pretty good," he says. "All of the managers like to see it." The reports help make sure that the company's 350 employees, only 150 of whom are supposed to be computer users, are working. "It's a manufacturing plant," he explains. "Most of the time, people should be on the shop floor working and not at their desks surfing the Web." He does wish that the service's policy-setting features were configurable in 15- or 30-minute increments rather than in one-hour increments, because the company doesn't provide lunch and breaks in one-hour blocks, he says.
In addition to protecting users from threats to their organization from email or from their browsers, such as viruses, spyware, and phishing, the service also lets IT administrators limit when users can visit websites such as eBay. Offering the functionality as a service, rather than in an appliance as some of the company's competitors do, means that IT administrators don't have to worry about keeping the appliance maintained and updated.
Moving reporting and scanning into the cloud is a great idea that makes administrative processes a lot easier, says Chris Christiansen, program vice president for security products and services at IDC. In addition, because the software is managed through a browser, it makes it easier to use with and has less impact on non-managed devices such as desktops and laptops that don't run Microsoft Windows, smart phones, and tablet devices such as the Apple iPad, he says. In addition, the development makes sense because the majority of malware now comes from websites rather than from email, he says.
The new version of the service became available in early October, and the service costs between $3 and $4 per user per month, depending on factors such as the number of users, based on an annual contract. Because the functionality is available as a service, updates are automatically included.