St. Bernard Software has combined an appliance with a hosted service in its latest web filtering offering.

The Managed Enterprise Reporting Service for iPrism is the first release under St. Bernard's new strategy of combining hardware and services to better meet enterprise security needs, according to company officials.

The new product will allow companies to run multiple iPrism appliances in different locations, while the services collect, analyse and archive information generated by the appliances. This approach allows for greater scalability and cost efficiency than non-hybrid approaches, officials said.

"There are some advantages to offering a hybrid approach, including more choice for customers and the ability to provide a more flexible upgrade path in the future," said Michael Osterman, president of Osterman Research. "Vendors that offer both don't force their customers to look for alternative vendors when their preference for service delivery changes."

St. Bernard's iPrism appliance sits at a company's site to block employee access to inappropriate or non-work websites. The hosted service stores reports on employee activity at St. Bernard's datacentres, where secure backup is also provided, officials said.

For companies that only need one iPrism appliance, the hybrid approach is still beneficial because it relieves the appliance of its reporting duties, therefore boosting performance, they said.

St. Bernard competes with web filtering such vendors as Sophos, IronPort, ESoft, ScanSafe and Postini. Last year St. Bernard acquired Singlefin, provider of hosted services for web, email and instant-messaging security, for an undisclosed amount.

Managed Enterprise Reporting Service for iPrism is priced at $1,000 per year per appliance. Pricing for the iPrism starts at $2,490 per device.