Responsibility and Trust

By Gregory Shapiro  |  Posted 2010-09-28 Print this article Print

2. Responsibility and trust

While outsourcing the responsibility for one or more e-mail infrastructure layers can be appealing, the risks associated with the trust you put into that provider (and beyond) needs to be closely examined. Each layer exposes more sensitive data and needs to be reexamined before moving that layer to the cloud.

In the External Protection Layer, this may only be a list of valid e-mail addresses for recipient validation. However, in the Backbone Layer, this may be a substantial amount of directory data in order to implement policy and routing based on directory information (department, manager, location, etc). Your use of cloud services means you not only need to trust your providers but also need to trust your provider's partners.

3. Control

Unfortunately, when it comes to control, there isn't much to offer in terms of benefits. Instead, I include it as food for thought when deciding which portions of the e-mail infrastructure to send to the cloud. Using another provider can take away your control of services in data in various ways. Examples include:

-Lack of control over data retention policy for backups, storage, logs, etc.

-Providers may be subpoenaed and required to turn over your data without notification due to gag orders (for example, National Security Letters).

-Little to no control over provider's maintenance cycles or downtime.

-Providers or their partners may be acquired by organizations that may have different privacy policies, partners, terms of service, etc. They may also go out of business.

The importance each of these depends on the corporate culture and the portions of the infrastructure being considered.

Gregory Shapiro is Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at Sendmail. In his tenure at Sendmail, Gregory has held prominent roles in the engineering, IT and business development departments. After four years of leading Sendmail's products in production, Gregory returned to improving those solutions, first in the business development group researching and evaluating partner products and most recently as the engineering group's chief architect. Prior to Sendmail, Gregory began his professional career as a systems administrator for Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) after graduating from WPI with a degree in Computer Science in 1992. Gregory is a FreeBSD committer, has served as program committee member for BSDCon 2002 and program chairman for BSDCon 2003. In addition, he has contributed to the past three editions of the O'Reilly Sendmail book. He can be reached at

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