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Next Generation of Email Security

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The more I read about the “next generation” of anything I feel that the term next generation is overused. Nonetheless, let’s look into what the next generation of email security would entail.

The bulk of vendors using the next generation moniker when it comes to email are anti-spam companies and let’s face it, there is a very good reason for that. The first generation of anti-spam software did not solve the problem. Nor did they slow the problem. In fact, the bulk of anti-spam countermeasures have done next to nothing.

At Hostingcon 2009, I was at a session where representatives from Rackspace and Cloudmark were discussing anti-spam software and someone posted on the Twitter board that they thought the next generation of email security would be passwords and encryption.

I have to beg to differ with this reasoning. Password and encrypted email technologies have been around for a very long time. The only thing that is needed in that department is adoption not necessarily more tools. There are tools already that add an encryption layer to programs such as Microsoft Exchange. The only failure for those tools is that very few people actually use them.

Spam on the other hand has three major problems that have not been addressed. First off, high levels of spam flood networks and use up server and network resources. Second, spam can be a vector for malware. Third, current anti-spam products have a problem with false positives and by putting legitimate business email into a spam folder or even trash, spam makes employees waste countless time sifting through these junk folders to find emails that are necessary to their work.

According to a report by Symantec back in May of this year, spam accounts for 90% of all email. With that large of an amount, spam doesn’t just hassle users, it costs data centers hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars in power, maintenance, and hardware costs each year, globally.

When we look at the security threats that email is faced with everyday, spam IS the highest priority and therefore the future of email security will be anti-spam software until the problem is resolved, if ever. Now a solution like Cloudmark’s Cloudfilter is very much an innovative means of solving the spam problem, but also all of its side issues. By removing spam before it gets to a network mail server, CloudFilter saves the data center a great deal of money and protects users by keeping malware out of their inboxes.

So when Cloudmark says they are offering the next generation of email security… well I am inclined to agree.

Categories : Security
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HostingCon 2009: Top 5 Must See Companies

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HostingCon this year was the biggest one yet, which has become a clich√© since each subsequent HostingCon is bigger than the previous. Regardless, this year saw attendance up between 10% and 15% from 2008 and with it an increase in service providers and new technologies. If you didn’t make the conference or if you did but did not manage to see everything, I have composed the top 5 must see companies.

OpenSRS – If any company at HostingCon knew how to channel Twitter it was OpenSRS. After mining through every single twitter in the #HostingCon channel we found that of the top 20 key terms OpenSRS was the ONLY company that everyone seemed to be talking about. It’s easy to see why too since the OpenSRS booth was one of the most colorful and interesting and had some of the best bells and whistles at the show. Interest however would not end at the whirring noises and pretty lights of the booth, since OpenSRS does offer one of the most comprehensive email reselling service networks in the world. So OpenSRS, visit for the Service Guy, stay for the content.

Cloudmark, Inc. – Cloudmark is one of the biggest names is spam prevention. Earlier this year, Cloudmark released their in the cloud spam filter system called CloudFilter. Since then, Cloudmark has been making a push into the hosting space. CloudFilter has been on my Top 10 technologies for 2009 and its only going to get more popular as the months go by. CloudFilter boasts 98% plus accuracy and scrubs email before it reaches the mail server reducing the impact of spam on a Host’s infrastructure. Cloudmark’s CloudFilter is a powerful tool and can be applied in just about every form of hosting.

Dasient – One of the two new faces in this Top 5 list, Dasient provides Web Anti-Malware services, which identify, quarantine, filter, or even help remove depending on what service set you purchase. At its lowest level of service, Dasient gives web developers the ability to determine if their sites have been blacklisted due to malware intrusion. In the middle tier of service, Dasient gives blacklist monitoring as well as alerting the web developer if they malware on their site and how to solve the matter. At the higher end, Dasient will do all the other stuff previously mentioned, but will automatically quarantine malicious code and filter out malware before the pages are served providing bulletproof protection. Dasient’s service can compliment any Host’s feature list and they work alongside the Host to aid in the incorporation of Dasient’s services, seamlessly.

KEMP Technologies, Inc – In their sophomore year at HostingCon, KEMP has come a long way to add better features to their load balancers. KEMP load balancers have three things going for them. They all cover the same functions as the other, more popular, load balancers and in some places do it a lot better; they cost a lot less across the board; and use less power. It’s no wonder that KEMP has been so successful with Web Hosts. All the power for a lot less.

Packet Power РThe amount of power used by devices inside a data center is not just something that only Green Hosts need be concerned over. Anyone who owns their own servers should be energy conscious. Over the past few years, electrical costs and the energy needs of servers and attached devices has been climbing.  Reduction of the usage and overall price tag of monthly energy costs have been scrutinized but companies are hard pressed to find the proper tools to test if their energy cutting techniques are actually working at the device level. Packet Power solves this problem by giving users the power usage figures of every device you choose. Packet Power is easy to use and can tell Web Administrators where the problems are and if power usage policies are working.

Categories : Conferences
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I got a chance to interview Jack Zubarev, President Service Provider Division of Parallels, and he told me that if you are loosing money or if your company is failing, the cloud is not going to fix the problem. I found this statement to be very satisfying because of how true it is. If your company is not doing well then you really should find ways of fixing that before you make a leap into a different technology. But that is a different article.

Touring the exhibit hall this year was a lot different than last year’s Parallels Summit. The Hall was far bigger and more open. You did not have to walk through it to get to the other areas, although you could, it wasn’t essential. When I first arrived to check out the hall, I thought the foot traffic was a lot less than the previous year, however as the day wore on the number of people on the floor greatly increased. After talking to various vendors, many echoed those sentiments.

From the exhibit hall it looks like the companies to follow this year are CloudMark (more on them in a separate post), keepit, Open-Xchange, SmarterTools, and Sarito (makers of Horde Skins plus).

This year’s Summit also included many schools and universities in attendance. Some showed up to cut costs (there even was a specific conference session on this called Virtualization Super Story: Oregon City School District Cuts IT Budget 60%) while others came in order to look for software and hardware for their IT classes. Hopefully, more academics will come out next year so they can see where the future of the Web Hosting industry is headed.

Although the tone of this Parallels Summit was focused on Cloud computing, I think there are a few more important lessons that can be learned from this Summit:

  • Know your customers
  • Understand your market
  • Due to the economy, look for acquisition opportunities.

Especially the last one. With the global economy slowing down, now is a great time to buy out the smaller companies. Combine this with understanding your market and knowing what you customers need, 2009 can be a very profitable year.

Categories : Commentary, Conferences
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