Six Spam Fighters Face Real-World Test

By Cameron Sturdevant  |  Posted 2003-09-29 Print this article Print

After reviewing RFP responses from more than 30 anti-spam vendors, eWEEK Labs and service provider WiscNet invited six companies to show what they could do to help WiscNet solve its spam problem.

After reviewing RFP responses from more than 30 anti-spam vendors, eWEEK Labs and service provider WiscNet invited six companies to show what they could do to help WiscNet solve its spam problem.

The results, following, are based on WiscNets installation and initial use of each product in a variety of test environments that sought to simulate the vastly different constituencies that WiscNet serves. These include elementary-school, high-school and college students; faculty and administrators at all levels of education; and library staff.

In addition to comparing products side by side, we wanted to evaluate the different methods of implementation: software, hardware appliance and service.

We were surprised to find that the method of delivery is not as important as we thought it would be. For example, both Brightmail Inc.s software system and FrontBridge Technologies Inc.s service advocate a hands-off management approach. Likewise, both Postini Corp.s service and ActiveState Corp.s software products can be used out of the box without tuning but also let end users and administrators make changes to the way filters work based on specific user needs. Price will likely be the biggest differentiator in terms of platform choice.

Flexibility in administration was the No. 1 requirement for the WiscNet judges. Because it serves such varied members, WiscNet needs to be able to tune whatever solution it deploys in many different ways.

Judges representing the K-12 education constituencies, for example, said they would not want students to have access to quarantined e-mail, while judges from Wisconsin-area colleges said they need to be able to allow their professors a wide berth while granularly controlling access for students, administrative staff and many other groups.

WiscNet needs more flexibility than most organizations will, but there are few organizations that wont need to do some tuning and perhaps different tuning for different users. For example, an organizations executive-level managers may require access to filtered e-mail, while the clerical staffs filtered e-mail could be deleted without any quarantine at all.

However, generally speaking, we recommend that organizations put this kind of spam identification flexibility low on their list of anti-spam requirements. As the eWEEK eVal unfolded, we started to buy into the idea that spam is spam, and it should just be eradicated.
  • Review: Postini Perimeter Manager
  • Review: FrontBridge TrueProtect Message Management Suite
  • Review: McAfee SpamKiller
  • Review: CipherTrust IronMail
  • Review: Brightmail Anti-Spam Enterprise Edition
  • Review: ActiveState PureMessage
    Cameron Sturdevant Cameron Sturdevant is the executive editor of Enterprise Networking Planet. Prior to ENP, Cameron was technical analyst at PCWeek Labs, starting in 1997. Cameron finished up as the eWEEK Labs Technical Director in 2012. Before his extensive labs tenure Cameron paid his IT dues working in technical support and sales engineering at a software publishing firm . Cameron also spent two years with a database development firm, integrating applications with mainframe legacy programs. Cameron's areas of expertise include virtual and physical IT infrastructure, cloud computing, enterprise networking and mobility. In addition to reviews, Cameron has covered monolithic enterprise management systems throughout their lifecycles, providing the eWEEK reader with all-important history and context. Cameron takes special care in cultivating his IT manager contacts, to ensure that his analysis is grounded in real-world concern. Follow Cameron on Twitter at csturdevant, or reach him by email at

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