Spam is a real nuisance. It fills up mailboxes and obscures mail you actually want to read. Individuals can do quite a bit to reduce the irritation, and ISPs are also grappling with the problem, filtering spam before it ever reaches the user.

However, enterprises still have to deal with the real costs. The more time an employee spends deleting spam, the less time they can spend on productive work. And it does nothing to improve the bottom line.

Although estimates of the proportion of spam in email traffic vary, the one thing that emerges from it all is that the problem is not going away. Phishing attacks are a further complication. While not strictly spam, phishing shares some characteristics. Systems are now starting to offer methods to help manage this aspect of email.

Although ISPs offer anti-spam filtering as a service, this might not be acceptable to a business — some commercial traffic might be filtered out because it has some of the characteristics of spam. Some businesses would prefer a solution they control themselves so they can be sure essential messages are not being filtered out before they ever receive them.

While most companies' mail servers offer some filtering tasks, a dedicated system offers advantages in organization and processing capabilities. A separate device can provide extra processing power to handle the increased workload that would otherwise require an upgrade to the server system.

IronPort C300 Email 
Vendor: IronPort Systems 
Verdict: A capable system for the medium-sized  
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Mailgate 5550 Appliance 
Vendor: Tumbleweed 
Our Verdict: Provides a range of powerful anti-spam services  
Verdict: Communications behind a deceptively simple interface.
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