Kim Falkner from SPAMfighter is our guest blogger and gives her insight into hosted vs. in-house SPAM filters. It is a good topic because with SPAM comes risks to electronic protected health information (ePHI).
Hosted spam filter? Better than in-house software?
We do not have to delve on the fact that spam is an annoyance for every company. The sheer volume of e-mail threats and malware makes a spam filter absolutely necessary. Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, famously predicted that spam would be a thing of the past after 2006 but it is now 2011 and spam is still a major threat and source of noise. Indeed, spam levels have fallen during recent years but most studies reveal they are still well above 80% of total mails sent.
A company who needs to invest in a spam filter has the option of using an in-house software product or using a hosted spam filter. The in-house option consists of an add on to the company’s existing mail server, e.g. Microsoft Exchange Server, a Domino Notes mail server or whatever mail server the company may be using. The hosted spam filter is a service where spam is filtered before it enters the company’s mail server. In other words, the spam filtering is outsourced and resides in the cloud.
What are the benefits of using a spam filter in a hosted environment?
When using a hosted solution there are neither costs associated with software acquisition nor resources spent on installation and administration. Software administration for an in-house solution requires that the Admin not only keeps the software up and running but also applies patches and makes sure it plays nicely with other software and the local Operating System. On the other hand, a hosted solution does not require any local hardware, nor does it need to be installed and maintained. A benefit that is less frequently mentioned, but not of lesser importance, is that a hosted solution lowers network traffic since the spam filtering occurs outside the company’s network. While network strain is not a big concern for organizations that deal with smaller amounts of spam, it can be much more of a concern for those that have to process higher volumes.
One frequently discussed issue is that there are privacy and security concerns with a hosted solution since the emails are being processed and sorted for spam outside the organization’s network.
Another important issue is whether the costs of using a hosted solution are actually higher in the long term. As previously stated, implementing a local spam filter implies an initial investment in software, and hardware if a mail server is needed, but factoring long term costs, such as hardware maintenance and updates, may prove to be more expensive than a hosted solution.
Regardless of which solution you go for there are some thoughts regarding the organization that should be taken into consideration. Is the company growing and how many employees is it projected to have in the upcoming years? Is the company planning to open branches in remote locations that will require changes to its e-mail infrastructure? Either way, choosing between a hosted and a non hosted spam filter solution is task that most companies must do eventually!
SPAMfighter is a global provider of server spam filters. Protecting over 27.000 servers and app. 8 million users from spam and all sorts of e-mail borne threats.