Cisco Takes E-mail Security To The Cloud

The new services, which include managed, hosted and hybrid hosted e-mail security, give new control over where e-mail security is deployed and managed, letting end users determine whether they prefer it on-premise, off-site, in the cloud or a combination of the three, said Keith Valory, director of product management in Cisco's security technology business group.

According to Valory, spam is taking over e-mail, and according to Cisco's 2008 Annual Security Report, spam accounts for nearly 200 billion messages daily, or roughly 90 percent of the world's e-mail traffic.

To combat that and other e-mail nuisances, San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco, through its IronPort acquisition, has launched Cisco IronPort Hosted Email Security, Hybrid Hosted Email Security and Managed Email Security services. The services, Valory said, tie in preventative and reactive technologies, like spam protection, data-loss prevention, virus defense, e-mail authentication and reporting tools to let companies maintain control over their e-mail infrastructures however they choose.

The product is a cloud-based dedicated e-mail infrastructure hosted in a network of Cisco data centers with no shared infrastructure, to reduce the risk of data contamination and offer high levels of uptime. Valory said customers can reduce their data centers' energy use and physical footprint while also reducing power, cooling and operations costs. Additionally, users can control the hosted devices with co-managed device access. Users of the hosted model also can access realtime reports and modify configurations without service ticket response delays.

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The hybrid method, a combination of in-the-cloud and on-premise solutions, gives companies the ease of having all inbound e-mail control handled in the cloud, while allowing them to retain outbound e-mail controls, such as data-loss prevention and encryption, which is handled on-premise. The hybrid solution has a common management interface that spans both the hosted and on-premise equipment, offering centralized reporting, messaging ticketing and quarantine.

The Managed Email Security Service is staffed by Cisco e-mail security experts who manage and monitor e-mail infrastructures. It offers on-site e-mail security appliances coupled with the ability to allow some or all management and maintenance to be handled by Cisco, which can enable companies to eliminate training and spending on dedicated hardware for managing spam and other e-mail issues. This model uses a per-user, per-year pricing method and offers 24 x 7 support through a Cisco-staffed security operations center.

Valory said all three e-mail security services will be resold through the channel, opening the door for partners to wrap in their own security services.

According to Brett Rushton, practice vice president for network infrastructure and security at Tempe, Ariz.-based solution provider Insight Networking, the ability to offer customers three distinct e-mail security services catered to their own needs is something the market was looking for.

"The market opportunity is just ripe to drive this into the marketplace," he said, adding that e-mail security has the highest potential for outsourcing. "E-mail is critical, but the management isn't something that is a core competency for a lot of companies. Clients are struggling with how to operate some of these environments, particularly around security."

Rushton said offering managed, hosted and hybrid solutions will enable solution providers to offer customers new flexibility, whether they want complete management, a certain level of control or a service based in the cloud.

"Now we can have that discussion with our clients," he said, "We can have a discussion around what fits their specific needs."

Rushton added that with these three new e-mail security services, Cisco has given VARs a full story to tell around e-mail security. They can now sell appliance-based e-mail security, a Software-as-a-Service model or a combination of the two.

"Cisco's now provided the whole continuum," he said. "The range of solutions is now complete."