Swiff-Train Company, a 75-year-old company based in Texas, is a widely recognized wholesale distributor of upscale floor coverings and countertop products. The company serves 2,500 local, regional and global customers through sales offices and agents across the US, Canada, and Europe.
Overloaded on spam
For its 200 employees, Swiff-Train Company (Swiff-Train) has an extensive IT infrastructure with one “hot” mail server at corporate headquarters running Microsoft Exchange 2007, as well as a “warm” server in a backup datacenter. “Unfortunately, our previous anti-spam solution caused a degree of instability to the mail server, and software updates often delayed messages,” explains Greg Altman, Swiff-Train’s network administrator. “In addition to the system stability issues, the old system’s anti-spam configuration lacked granularity, and the anti-virus system was not giving us prompt updates.”
Swiff-Train’s main concerns were network safety and preserving the integrity of the company’s data. Another concern was to get the best product for the best price to increase the company’s bottom line profitability.
“Our biggest IT priorities are always to facilitate and enable the company as a whole. Our end users can make far better use of their time than to spend half the day deleting spam,” adds Altman.
The four IT employees at Swiff-Train all wear multiple hats to handle administration for Swiff-Train’s technology systems. Altman himself maintains responsibility for the WAN between branches, along with other daily IT routines. However, dealing with an inadequate anti-spam system was one headache that the IT department didn’t need.
On a daily basis, Altman estimates that Swiff-Train received 20,000-25,000 emails, and that 90 of those emails were spam. In addition to numerous man hours spent sifting through the spam emails to find normal emails, Altman also estimates that spam messages took up valuable WAN bandwidth and email storage space.
Moving towards appliance-based security
According to Altman, Swiff-Train moved away from a software-only solution, primarily due to software stability issues as well as hardware demands. The company also rejected a managed solution so that the IT team could react instantly to an issue or requested change.
When Swiff-Train began looking for a new anti-spam solution in 2005, Altman read a number of networking magazine reviews that rated McAfee’s Network Security Business Unit (formerly Secure Computing) as the top one or two vendors in product tests. He was sold.
Swiff-Train chose McAfee Email Gateway (IronMail) as the top-rated appliance for company size, and because it delivered an optimal price-to-feature ratio.
“Since we’ve been using McAfee Email Gateway, the results have been impressive,” says Altman.The biggest benefit to Swiff-Train’s IT department is McAfee Email Gateway’s “set it and forget it” capability, which liberates the technical staff’s time to manage other pressing issues or long-term projects.
“Managing McAfee Email Gateway now takes less than five minutes a week,” Altman notes. “And, the web-based interface is easy to check at a glance, to make sure updates are applied and everything is flowing smoothly.”
Swiff-Train also added anti-virus protection as the first line of defense against email borne viruses.
“McAfee Email Gateway has been very effective in addressing virus, spyware and spam threats. This was a major factor in making our decision because these threats not only cause loss of productivity for the person affected, but losses for everybody else in the company due to the additional bandwidth usage consumed by the malware and tech support time involved,” adds Altman.
"McAfee Email Gateway has allowed us to virtually eliminate virus threats, save money on email storage, and recoup tens of thousands of dollars in manpower for other IT projects. Even in Texas that’s more than lunch money!"Greg Altman
Network Administrator, Swiff-Train Company
Cost and time savings on email management
“We have stayed with McAfee Email Gateway because we haven’t found anything better on the market. It’s still the best product out there,” says Altman.
The results are quantifiable, and in addition to eliminating viruses and spam at the gateway, McAfee Email Gateway saves the company time.
“Based on the volume of spam blocked, we have saved over 4,000 man hours annually by not having end users sifting through spam. This is in addition to the unquantifiable savings in lost productivity due to virus outbreaks,” says Altman.
In addition, because mail volume is substantially reduced, Swiff-Train doesn’t need to purchase more email storage. Now the company can realize an extra year or more of service from its email server due to the decreased load.
Altman reports that the spam blocking has been particularly effective, with an average blocking rate of more than 99%. Prior to deployment of McAfee Email Gateway, only about half of the spam had been caught, with the rest continuing to clog the servers and consume bandwidth.
“McAfee Email Gateway has allowed us to virtually eliminate virus threats, save money on email storage, and recoup tens of thousands of dollars in manpower for other IT projects. Even in Texas that’s more than lunch money!” says Altman.
A brighter future for email security
Swiff-Train was delighted when TrustedSource Internet Reputation System — a behavioral-based technology that uses a reputation score to accurately identify and reject unwanted email traffic — was added to McAfee Email Gateway.
“Having TrustedSource incorporated into McAfee Email Gateway is a big perk for us,” Altman adds. “Its reputation-based protection works very well in preventing even the most recent malicious content from getting through our networks.”
In the next few years, Swiff-Train anticipates pushing more email applications out to employees’ handheld devices such as the Blackberry and Windows Mobile. When that time comes, Altman is confident that McAfee will handle the email security project expertly.