Ensuring that workers comply with company communications policies is a complex task. So, not surprisingly, Orchestria Corp.s Active Policy Management 3.1 is a complex solution. But the softwares complexity ensures performance and adaptability that will provide value for companies that need to monitor message-based communications.
APM 3.1, available now, is priced at $200 per user. The Orchestria product provides the broadest policy coverage eWEEK Labs has seen, using client- and server-based tools for monitoring and managing e-mail, instant messaging and Web-based communications. The results of this approach garner APM 3.1 our Analysts Choice designation.
In eWEEK Labs tests, APMs rules-oriented approach delivered a level of accuracy that will pay off for companies willing to make a substantial upfront investment in building good policies. Most competing applications use more basic, dictionary-based policies that, while faster to create initially, create a high level of false positives until the policies are tuned.
APM has another major advantage over traditional e-mail compliance tools: When client agents are used, the product can stop policy-violating e-mail messages before they reach the mail server, thus keeping them out of the archive.
Orchestria has focused on building expertise around financial institutions; therefore, the products prebuilt policy libraries target that industry. However, we believe the underlying technology can be readily adapted to other heavily regulated industries, such as health care—all that remains is for Orchestria to build out that expertise. And should the price come down considerably, the software would be more broadly applicable to general communication policies, such as ensuring that salespeople use best practices when communicating with customers.
By combining client agents and server-side gateways, APM gives companies a number of deployment options and covers a broad range of applications. We tested APM by deploying a central management server, an agent on a Microsoft Corp. Exchange server and client applications on our test desktop systems. APM also has tools for importing e-mail and IM archives.
APM focuses on Microsoft Exchange environments, with both the server-side Exchange agent and support for Microsoft Outlook in the client agent. The client agent also supports IBMs Lotus Notes client and Bloomberg LPs Bloomberg Professional messaging application.
This client-oriented approach differs from proxy- and gateway-based policy management applications, such as Clearswift Ltd.s MIMEsweeper for SMTP, in that APM can manage message traffic before it leaves the client PC. Because the traffic never gets to the e-mail server, its never captured in an archive.
Most SMTP-based policy management applications, in contrast, intercept traffic just before it leaves the companys network, making the messages discoverable, in the legal sense, on an e-mail server or archive—even if they never reach an intended recipient.
The APM agent worked well in tests, causing no noticeable performance hit on the client. APM let client agents be remotely distributed, but companies dont necessarily have to deploy client agents. The benefits of using the client were borne out in testing, however. We could use the client to block access to certain Web sites, such as Hotmail.com, or monitor and block activities on a site, such as sending restricted text or files. We could even build policies that blocked SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) sessions on certain sites to ensure that users didnt sidestep monitoring through encryption.