Sunday, January 14, 2007

Choosing the right spam solution

While I was on vacation Ed Brill blogged the question "Have we hit the "who cares" point with spam?" Ed's premise was that since your e-mail address is out there, and the whole point of having e-mail is to be reachable, was trying to obfuscate e-mail addresses even worth the effort?

The discussion turned into one of spam filtering techniques and what solutions can or "should" be used. In that message thread I found the following comments by Mike Lazar particularly inflammatory:
Full disclosure -- My company is a strategic partner with Microsoft Exchange Hosted Services, i.e., the former FrontBridge. I don't know why any organization, regardless of size, wouldn't use one of the 3 big services for anti-spam/anti-virus. Whether it's MEHS, Postini, or MessageLabs, they are all superior to anything you can do with native tools or an appliance.
Frankly, the cost is also negligible, espeically when compared to buying an appliance, maintaining it, etc.
It comes down to a service vs. DIY approach, and honestly, a service is the better/proper fit for the vast, vast, majority of organizations out there.
I respect Mike's knowledge, and am aware that he has worked with Domino in the past. I have nothing against him, and I do think Mike is entitled to his opinion. I also think it is wrong. :)

First, there isn't anything any of the "big 3" offers that you can't get with another solution. There is absolutely no basis in fact for that statement. Going through the Postini and MessageLabs feature lists, there isn't anything listed that I don't have currently.

Second, the costs are not negligible. The best price I was ever quoted from Postini was $1.50 per mailbox per month. The Barracuda we're using costs us about $0.40 per mailbox per month, which is the annual support contract and the 1 hour a week we spend on maintenance. (If we had more mailboxes it would actually decrease since there is no per-user mailbox charge.)

Third, I find it offensive that anyone would be arrogant enough to tell every company using Domino's built-in spam filtering, an appliance, or DIY spam filter that they are totally wrong-minded. Chris Linfoot works for a large manufacturer, relies on Domino's built-in spam filtering, and has had tremendous success. Companies like IBM, Coca-Cola, FedEx, and Nintendo all use appliances. To Mike's way of thinking they all made the wrong choice.

The message I'm trying to get across is before you choose a spam solution be sure to investigate what makes the most sense for your organization. There are several ways to tackle this problem and only you can determine what is right for your company. For me, outsourcing is the least desirable option.


  1. Single point of failure, latency, updates, should I go on? Give me a geeks have 'control issues' and HUGE EGO'S!!! They think if they can tweak this, or that, they feel like they have figured out a 'Rubik’s Cube' or something! I know the main reason for this statement is the fact that ‘managed services’ may potentially take someone’s job away!

  2. Kregg, I can't tell whether you're agreeing, disagreeing, or just troll baiting.