Cloud-Based Antispam Services for Your Network - dummies

Cloud-Based Antispam Services for Your Network

By Doug Lowe

A cloud-based antispam service (also called hosted antispam) is an Internet-based service that filters your email before it ever arrives at your mail server. When you use hosted antispam, you reconfigure your public DNS so that your mail server (the MX record) points to the cloud-based antispam server rather that to your mail server.

That way, all email sent to your organization is first processed by the servers at the antispam service before it ever arrives at your mail server. Only those emails that are deemed to be legitimate are forwarded to your mail server; spam emails are stored in the cloud, where they can be reviewed and retrieved by your users if necessary.

Typically, you pay for hosted antispam based on how many users you have. For example, you might pay a monthly fee of $2 per user. As your organization grows, you simply purchase additional subscriptions.

Here are some of the main advantages of using cloud-based antispam:

  • You get to skip the hassle of installing and configuring software, integrating the software with Exchange, maintaining and patching the software, and all the other chores associated with hosting your own server on your own premises. Your monthly subscription charges cover the cost of someone else doing all that work.

  • Because you don’t have to buy software or hardware, there is no initial investment. You simply subscribe to the service and pay the monthly service charges. (As an added bonus, if you’re dissatisfied with the service, you can easily move to a different one. Switching to a different antispam appliance or on-premises solution is a much more complicated and expensive affair.)

  • A cloud-based antispam solution scales easily with your organization. If you double the number of users, you simply pay twice as much per month. You don’t have to worry about running out of disk space, RAM, clock cycles, or network bandwidth.

  • Cloud-based antispam takes a huge load off your network and your mail server. Because someone else filters your spam for you, spam never enters your network. In most organizations, email is one of the most taxing applications running on the network. Using cloud-based antispam can easily cut incoming network traffic in half; in some cases, it might cut traffic by as much as 90 percent.

As you would expect, there are drawbacks to using cloud-based antispam:

  • You give up some control. Cloud-based services usually have fewer configuration options than on-premises software. For example, you’ll probably have fewer options for customizing the spam filters.

  • If the service goes down, so does your incoming email. You won’t be able to do anything about it except call technical support. And you can count on getting a busy signal, because when the service goes down, it isn’t just you that’s affected; it’s all its customers. (Of course, this gives such services plenty of motivation to ensure that they fix the problem right away.)