eWEEK Labs last year worked with WiscNet—a nonprofit, membership-based association of education, research and public service organizations—to evaluate anti-spam systems that could protect WiscNets tens of thousands of user e-mail addresses and provide the flexibility to accommodate all types of members.
After spending months on the project, eWEEK and WiscNet whittled 30 contenders down to six. An eWEEK Labs eValuation was then conducted to determine which product would be the best solution for WiscNet. ActiveState Corp. (now a division of Sophos plc.), Brightmail Inc. (since acquired by Symantec Corp.), CipherTrust Inc., FrontBridge Technologies Inc., McAfee Security (a Network Associates Inc. company) and Postini Inc. made the cut. WiscNet staff and eWEEK Labs spent a week at the University of Wisconsins Pyle Center, in Madison, last August evaluating the six finalists.
Ultimately, WiscNet decided on Postinis Perimeter Manager anti-spam service and started implementing it in March. With a smooth installation and a couple of months of service under its belt, Perimeter Manager is earning praise from WiscNet staff.
"Aside from a few problems importing mailboxes from some of our Domino mail servers, the cutover was very smooth," said Kika Barr, technical support manager at WiscNet.
"[Experts] at Postini maintain the system in the face of ever-escalating spammer tactics, [while WiscNet handles] user-tunable quarantine," said WiscNet Enterprise Service Developer Craig Stephensen, who led the business evaluation of the anti-spam project.
WiscNet charges members a one-time $700 setup fee and a subscription rate of $3.50 per mailbox per year to cover the costs of the Postini service. WiscNet redirects MX (Mail Exchange) records for the participating institutions to Postinis operations center. E-mail is filtered by Perimeter Messenger before it hits WiscNets e-mail servers.
Perimeter Manager provides anti-spam filtering and ably controls access to users quarantined spam. Elementary- and high-school students, for example, cant access quarantined mail, but college students and professors can resurrect blocked messages with the click of a button.
WiscNets positive experience shows that it pays to look at various anti-spam products, evaluating tools not only on their ability to control spam but also on vendors ability to stay in business. Consolidation in the supercompetitive anti-spam market is likely to continue, and a convergence of anti-spam technologies will be vital to ensure that spam-blocking tools remain effective.
Senior Analyst Cameron Sturdevant can be reached at email@example.com.