Filtering In The Cloud #cetpak20

Screen Shot 2014-11-15 at 7.22.43 PMThis year when our Lightspeed Rocket 1.0 box failed, we decided to dive head first into a hosted web filtering solution. We worked with Securly over summer on some custom requirements and after a few false starts, made the switch at the start of school. It’s not perfect and we’ve had some issues but then I’ve never met a web filter that didn’t have issues. By design, they all break the web in one way or another.

The appeal of the Securly architecture was really it’s scalability. As a web based, hosted solution, we’re not limited by throughput limits. With box based systems, to scale bandwidth beyond a typical 1Gb connection requires more hardware or going big out of the gate with a 10Gb appliance. Because we’re already looking to expand our Internet service from 1Gb to 6 Gb over the next 2-3 years, this was a major consideration for us. Yes, we could bite the bullet and just go big but in case you don’t know, if I can avoid having hardware sitting in a server room that I have to care and feed, I usually do.

The other feature that really drew us to Securly was the tight integration with Google Apps. When our students login to their chromebooks using their school Google Apps accounts, they are automatically in the right filter policy based on their Google Sub Org. It’s seamless and easy and we don’t have to run client software or load all of our students into Active Directory. More importantly, students only have to login one time. With all the apps students need to login to these days, saving one login to a web filter can be a big time saver for instructional time.

Moving off of chromebooks and onto iPads, iMacs, n-Computing devices or windows laptops, things get a little messier but Securly is adding new features and has been very open to our feedback and requests. I see this as our trial year. If we don’t see improvement in the direction we want, we’re not locked into anything. That’s another nice thing about hosted solutions. We’re not stuck in hardware waiting 3-5 years for an upgrade. We can adapt faster than that. So if this Securly thing doesn’t work out we can always jump on the County Office’s Palo Alto Networks box and filter from there.