In order to actually process the true volume of e-mail the business requires, companies often need to upgrade to a higher specification appliance, or purchase a second appliance. Usually, customers have already made a significant investment in the appliance hardware and are compelled to upgrade, again at significant additional cost and installation disruption.
As a result, many appliance customers are becoming disillusioned with the weaknesses and disadvantages inherent in some of these appliances.
In contrast, the top performing software solutions provide multi-threading functionality, which removes potential bottleneck issues by scanning emails much faster than single-threaded solutions. These high-end software solutions are also able to increase performance throughput by managing multiple email processing node servers in an array. In this set-up, load balancing tools balance the e-mail processing load intelligently between different nodes, all at no additional cost to the customer. One appliance vendor does market a multi-server controller for linking two appliances together and load balancing them to share the task of processing large volumes of e-mail. However, this controller has to be bought separately yet another additional cost that most customers are unaware of when they make the initial decision to purchase an appliance.
Flexibility and cost-effectiveness
As well as the normal risk assessment, companies reviewing their messaging security solution also need to consider flexibility and cost-effectiveness. By their very nature, even the best designed, feature-rich appliances are inflexible because they are locked into a hardware platform. Functionality is not transferable, and in any case, most do not have the same depth of functionality or power for policy enforcement as equivalent software options. Often, new technologies become available which require higher specification hardware, such as anti-spyware scanning, encryption, messaging scanning, image classification or new anti-spam technologies. In such a situation, the only option for appliance customers is to bite the bullet and upgrade to a new system.
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