Welcome to SaaS thoughts

Whether you call it Software as a Service (SaaS), Managed Service Provider (MSP) or On-Demand Services, your organization uses the service running “in the cloud”. This blog will discuss these services, their benefits, drawbacks and operations. Are we biased? Yes. We believe that some services make sense for most organizations. Email security is one of those. However as Mark Twain said, “All generalizations are false, even this one.” Each Tuesday we will post information and questions about Software as a Service. Occasionally, we will have a "Guest Post" from either a consultant or vendor posting her/his thoughts on Managed Services generally as well as some degree of specificity based on her/his unique perspective. We encourage your insights, comments and feedback. Welcome.

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Appliance Email Security Solutions


Unsolicited commercials are everywhere. We get flooded with junk snail mail, billboards crowd the roadways, we get telemarketing calls during dinner and thank God for the mute button during commercials. Spam is the same thing: someone wants us to buy something.

“The vast majority of recipients throw it away, but spam is so cheap to send that the spammers can make money even with an infinitesimally small response rate — maybe one in a million,” John Levine of Trumansburg, New York, co-author of “Fighting Spam for Dummies,” told LiveScience. “Robert Soloway supported himself for years sending spam, and reportedly made 700,000 U.S. dollars per year at it.”

In our last post, we discussed Software Email Security Solutions. In this one, we will look at:

Appliance Solutions

When you move the anti-spam and virus solution to a dedicated server and put it at the perimeter of a network you get an appliance. It stops the spam before it is transferred to the email server saving bandwidth. The annual subscriptions continue as does the benefits of less spam in the inboxes.

UTM Firewall

This appliance can either be part of a UTM firewall or a stand-alone perimeter device. There are benefits to both. A UTM looks at the incoming stream of packets and makes several decisions on ID/IP as well as allowed traffic. If the appliance is also doing email security, the firewall also looks at the email stream and checks for email-borne virus and spam messages.

The benefit of a UTM solution is usually price since the email security piece is an add-on to the other capabilities. The draw-back is that the UTM firewall will have be capable of greater throughput than the firewall would need to be. The difference in price is probably less than a stand-alone appliance would be however.

Stand-Alone Appliance

An email security appliance handles email traffic exclusively. As specialized appliances, they often have more sophisticated software (and sometimes hardware) technology applied to the email stream than does a UTM.

The benefit of an email security appliance are several. First, the email traffic is redirected away from the other firewall traffic saving both bandwidth and perhaps money. Second, a specific tool is usually better at its job than a generalized tool.

The detriment to a stand-alone appliance is that the IT department now has yet another server to power, cool and maintain. Another problem with an appliance solution is that it will go out of the manufacturer’s warranty in 3 to 4 years requiring repurchase.

Is an Appliance Right for You?

Questions to ask:

  • How much bandwidth is spam taking on your network now? Unless you are in an organization that gets little email or spam, UCE probably makes up as much as 75% of your bandwidth. An appliance is probably a better choice.
  • Is there some specific reason to have a software solution instead of moving the email security service to the perimeter? If so, you may wish to keep it in place.
  • Does your existing firewall have the capability of doing an excellent job of securing your email? Have you evaluated it? Some UTM firewalls do a good job. <unabashed commercial>We recommend Astaro Firewalls for organizations interested in an appliance solution. They can be a full UTM or be used to perform email security only. Astaro firewalls can be physical appliances, software running on your hardware or VMware sessions.</unabashed commercial>

In the next session, we will discuss SaaS email security.

Posted on : Sep 23 2008
Tags: , ,
Posted under Email security, Managed Services, SaaS |


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