Symantec Endpoint Protection (SEP) Review

You can deploy it to Windows, Mac, and Linux with one console to cover all three


What is our primary use case?

I'm an IT consultant, so I implement Symantec Endpoint Protection for customers, from SMB up to large enterprises and federal government.

What is most valuable?

There are a number of features that all work synergistically to be able to provide the protection. Originally, anti-virus was based on definition. About 10 years ago, the bad guys figured out how to get past that. So what they've been doing for the past 10 years is adding in additional features to help mitigate any of these other attack vectors that the hackers or malicious people have. So it's just a working together of all these components that makes it special.

And then SEP itself fits into the Symantec ecosystem, and inter-operates with a number of other technologies to provide a comprehensive security portfolio.

I think the key thing for me, is interoperability, in that you can deploy it to Windows, Mac, and Linux. That's been a really important feature in the last two years. Now there's one management console to cover all three OSs.

There are two key aspects to how it has improved. One is the threats that it protects the organization from versus the amount of resource utilization; and two is that compatibility has increased.

What needs improvement?

They're just starting to get into this now, but I think they can do better - they're just starting out with I think is called the SEP Cloud Console. It has more limited functionality. It will be good once we can run SEP from the cloud. That would be good.

For how long have I used the solution?

More than five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The big issues around stability were fixed back around 2010 or so. When the original SEP client was created, there were some challenges with the interoperability of the different components, because they took a number of different agents, put them into one agent, and then they broke things. With SEP 12 and forward, that all runs really well now.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

From a scalability perspective, in Australia and New Zealand, where I'm using it, it can easily manage any workload that we've got. 

One of the challenges is people going the opposite way, that is, people trying to deploy Symantec Endpoint Protection - which is an enterprise level product - into a small business of a hundred users. It can introduce a lot of complexity that doesn't have to be there.

There are other solutions like SEP.cloud which can make it easier for small businesses to be able to use very similar technologies to Symantec Endpoint Protection.

How is customer service and technical support?

Most times it's good, but there are instances where there are some challenges in that the people who you're working with don't know how to fix what you're doing. Then you have to ask for an escalation. Normally what I'll do is I'll work with my Symantec colleagues to help escalate any internal issues, where we see that things are getting bogged down in support.

From a Symantec technology perspective I'm very happy with it. However, the support can be wanting, for those reasons. Sometimes the time to resolution is longer than I would expect.

Which solutions did we use previously?

Based on the roles that I've had, I've been working as a Symantec consultant for 10 years, and so I've just been working with SEP. There are people who, as their consulting function would be an endpoint protection guy, would do McAfee, SEP, Trend, etc., whereas my strategy was different. I basically covered off all Symantec technologies. My intent was to be able to be specialized across the entire range of security technologies. I've only worked with SEP.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is easy. That's one of the selling features, that you can roll it out in an hour. (They might say 15 minutes or something like that). But the initial rollout, setting up SEPM server, you can do in an hour. Then, the challenge is that you can make it as complex as you want after that. It's very, very capable, but it can get quite complex.

Symantec Endpoint Protection installation and Administration Guide is awesome. The documentation is good. They provide online training and you can also do instructor-led training. There should always be training available, or information available, to help you get where you have to go. That's one of the things I do like. 

I've been an instructor for Symantec for 10 years too, and I've taught the SEP course, and I think it covers off what you need to know.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

From a simplicity perspective, it's per user. Therefore, it makes it easy to do licensing.

I'll be honest, I haven't really done licensing with Symantec for seven years. I just do professional services and we let our partners handle the licensing.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Back in the day, when I worked for a distributor, there were other products available, that were cheaper - this is more of a New Zealand example - but they didn't have the functionality. However, because of the small businesses we were working with, they were good enough. 

That is a challenge: having an enterprise product like SEP competing against a cheaper product like Sophos or ESET. The latter are cheaper, but you don't get quite the same scalability, functionality, etc.

What other advice do I have?

Get competent consultants to do the implementation, because it can be complex. You have to have a consultant who is knowledgeable, to make sure they cover off all the bases, to make sure all the infrastructure is protected.

It saves time, in that a professional can get it done more quickly. And, it gets done correctly, so you don't have to do re-work. I've been in circumstances where the customers try to do the implementation themselves and then they bring us in after the fact, and we have to either redo what they've done or rebuild the infrastructure from scratch. That just doubles the cost of what it would have cost originally.

I would say this solution is a 10 out of 10. The big reason is the functionality. Personally, I've not had a breach or seen a breach. And it runs on the machine, and I can't even tell it's there.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Former Symantec consultant.
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