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Providing solution providers with an additional weapon in their security arsenal, Websense announced the release of its first appliance to deliver gateway security that includes Web filtering, traffic inspection and deep inspection of Web 2.0 content.

The Websense V10000 signals a change in the Websense model, which had been a software-only security vendor. By providing a hardware option, Websense says it’s meeting the end-user demand for a hardened appliance and giving solution providers an easily deployed solution for their customers.

While many vendors are pushing more of their security offerings into cloud-based solutions, Websense says its appliance is a response to the needs of midsize and large enterprises trying to manage and control the ever-expanding use of social networking and Web 2.0 tools.

"Customers are looking to deploy Web security solutions inline because they need to scan and classify the content in real time, as it comes over the wire" says David Meizlik, Director of Product Marketing for Web and Data Security at Websense. “The end goal is to allow access to sites and the good content they contain, but block access to what bad or inappropriate content also exists on that page, without blocking the entire page.”

Websense, which recently completed a rebranding of the company, is trying to turn perceptions that it’s simply a Web filtering company that denies access to gross amounts of content and Websites to a technology provider that protects users without totally impeding Web access. The V10000 moves the company in that direction by providing security that strips or blocks malicious content from popular social networking sites—such as Facebook or Twitter—without impeding access or functionality.

The appliance, powered by two quad-core Intel Xeon processors and 16GB of DDR2 memory, sits at the gateway and provides application-layer inspection of all Web, peer-to-peer and instant messaging traffic. The appliance provides integrated Web proxy and cache management, giving users the ability to monitor and inspect SSL-encrypted traffic. Appliance management is through a Web-based console that enables granular policy configuration and compliance reporting.

Many security vendors—including Trend Micro and McAfee—are inspecting Web traffic and Web 2.0 tools for malicious content and threats. Websense says the integration of technology it acquired from Defensio gives it the unique ability to inspect HTML traffic and block pieces of media-rich content.

“It gives us incredible visibility into what’s happening in the blogosphere and protects against risk even before anyone hits the site,” Meizlik says.

Websense announced the launch of the V10000 today, but the appliance will not be generally available for resellers until the end of April. Websense is planning a more celebratory launch at the upcoming RSA Conference in San Francisco.

The V10000 is billed as an easy-to-deploy appliance, but Websense cautions that solution providers adopting the appliance will require extensive networking knowledge and skills.

“I don’t think you can go to the lab and take the class and go out and sell on your own,” says David Roberts, senior vice president of Americas sales at Websense. “Resellers that have Cisco engineering certifications and CompTIA engineering certification will need a full week in lab-level training.”

Concurrent with the V10000 launch, Websense is hosting a series of local seminars and online training to acquaint resellers and end users with the new product. Websense is providing free training for many of its existing software resellers to get them up to speed on hardware implementations and sales, too. More than 125 Websense reseller partners are already participating in the prelaunch beta testing and training, Roberts said.