The Tech Herald

Strengthen your email backbone (NCSAM)

by Barry Shurtz - Oct 21 2010, 16:30

As the battle to filter the ever increasing volumes of email continues so does the struggle to manage the volumes of “wanted” vs. “unwanted” email. Every day, nearly two billion legitimate business critical email messages flow between businesses, partners and customers.

Millions of these messages are automatically generated transactional emails in the form of statements, invoices, receipts, reminders, etc. Some enterprises have in excess of a thousand “email generating applications” that need to be managed alongside the Collaboration and Groupware systems (such as Microsoft Exchange). At the same time, businesses are under increasing pressure to adhere to more stringent privacy and regulatory compliance regulations.

All of this leads to great complexity. Many IT organizations have attempted to solve these complex challenges by leveraging the same infrastructure and email security systems they’re using to battle the volumes of unwanted messages at the Internet Gateway. Why not? These systems have been performing admirably, blocking millions of unwanted messages every day.

However, therein lies the problem - these systems are great at blocking and filtering incoming messages, but they were not designed to handle the increasingly complex messaging requirements facing enterprise IT organizations today. These companies are quickly realizing that what’s required to mange this new level of complexity is a stronger, more agile, and more intelligent email backbone.

The Email Backbone

The email backbone can be viewed as the middleware of the enterprise message processing infrastructure that sits inside the organization between the Gateway security filtering and Groupware systems, whether on-premises or in the cloud, that intelligently inspects and routes all incoming and outgoing messages based on corporate policies. Below are just a few of the critical components of a modern intelligent email backbone.

What makes an email backbone intelligent? 

A sophisticated and centralized policy enforcement engine

The policy engine must be capable of executing deep content scanning of messages and attachments, and detailed inspection of message envelop and header information. Based on this information the policy engine can enforce an exponential number of different actions to the message including, block, quarantine, encrypt, re-route, remove recipients, add recipients add disclaimers, etc.

A seamless integration with corporate LDAP directories and other information sources

For the policy engine to make intelligent message processing decisions, it must have access to up-to-date organizational information about the senders, intended recipients, departments, and other key attributes in order to make sophisticated policy action and routing decisions

A platform with the ability to add applications

Unlike most single-function email Gateway solutions, a modern, intelligent email backbone infrastructure should be based on a flexible and agile core message processing platform that can easily grow as business requirements evolve.

It should be capable of handling additional “plug-in” applications, such as message encryption, so that each new application can easily leverage the power of the directory-driven policy engine, and investments in other applications and infrastructure.

Benefits of a Message Processor-based Email Backbone 

- Adds intelligence to the messaging infrastructure

- Improves overall message processing performance

- Reduces potential for loss of sensitive data

- “Future Proofs” messaging infrastructure to support multiple mail systems whether on-premise, in-cloud, or hybrid

- Substantial CAPEX and OPEX cost savings

An intelligent message processor-based email backbone is a critical part of a modern enterprise email topology. It gives enterprises’ the agility required to keep pace with the complex demands put on today’s messaging infrastructure, whether in the cloud, on-premises, or both, while increasing efficiencies and lowering costs.

Traditional single-purpose email security products designed to filter messages have proven not to be up to the job of tackling the complexity required of a strong, yet flexible, email backbone.

This is a contributed byline from Barry Shurtz, the Director of Product Marketing for Sendmail.

The Tech Herald sometimes publishes vendor articles, but retains the right to edit them for length and content. The opinions in this article are those of the author. They do not necessarily represent those of The Tech Herald or Monsters and Critics.

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