Symantec Secure Web Gateway Review

Quite scalable but it is more complex than it needs to be and would be better with modernized deployment strategies

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use case is deploying the product as a web security gateway in conjunction with the Symantec client.  

What needs improvement?

There are definitely considerable problems with this solution. Most notably, compared to Cisco Umbrella it was a lot more difficult to deploy. The deployment process should definitely be significantly simplified.  

The service pack file system should also be improved or even abandoned. The way the packed files are set up could definitely be better and maybe they do not have to be deployed that way at all. There are better solutions which is demonstrated by the fact that other products and companies no longer handle updates this way. They do it in a way that is easier to handle.  

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using the Symantec Complete Website Security solution for about six months.  

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability so far for the solution is very hit-and-miss. It has required a lot of fine-tuning over time.  

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is not really any major issue. It is quite scalable. If we need to do more deployments, we just add them.  

How are customer service and technical support?

I, personally, have not contacted the Symantec technical support for this product, but my colleagues have. I think the technical process is a bit long-winded and drawn out. The reason for that is that each time there is an issue we have to go through our supplier first and then we get to speak to Symantec. Obviously, in that chain there is a bit of unnecessary delay when we might be better off getting straight through to the source without an intermediate step.  

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

While we are currently using this tool from Symantec, I prefer Cisco Umbrella which we use with our guest and staff wifi. Cisco Umbrella is very easy to deploy. All the user has to do is point a service to Cisco's DNS service, and the deployment is pretty much complete. You can have it up and running in 10 minutes.  

How was the initial setup?

The deployment process is ongoing as we are still finding problems with it. I would say we are looking at about a couple of months to really complete the process of setup. That is with four people involved in the deployment process. It was entirely too long.  

What other advice do I have?

My advice to anyone considering this Symantec product as a solution is to first do a proof of concept. Do not roll it out completely. Doing the proof of concept makes you sure that you can target all of the different devices and complete the setup for your environment.  

The biggest lesson we have learned from working with this solution so far is that I now think the idea of a service pack file is a bit antiquated and Symantec needs to come away from that mindset. There are existing products that do not use it. That is where we have the biggest issues with the product when we do have issues with it. When we do have those issues, we have experienced complete outages within the whole organization. So I would definitely not recommend it over Cisco Umbrella as we have not experienced any similar issues with Umbrella.  

On a scale from one to ten where one is the worst and ten is the best, I would rate this product as a six-and-a-half. If I have to choose a whole number I would round it down to the lower end — or a six in that case.  

To become better rated — at least nine — they definitely have to start with the idea of changing the service pack file concept and resolving that issue while moving into something more fluid. If they will fix that, the product could be rated at closer to a nine. But that it causes catastrophic issues is unacceptable. If they got rid of the service packs completely and use technology similar to Cisco Umbrella, that would likely resolve those issues.  

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Public Cloud

If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?

**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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