Cisco Email Security
Strengths: Full email security appliance with many deployment models.
Weaknesses: Subscription-based pricing may become expensive on an ongoing basis.
Verdict: Solid product, though a bit pricey.
The Cisco Email Security virtual appliance offers a full set of inbound and outbound email security and control features. With this product deployed, administrators can set granular inbound and outbound policies that control inbound spam and viruses along with outbound data leakage prevention and encryption, among other features. To ensure email is secured and handled properly both leaving and entering the enterprise, this solution features a combination of multiple anti-virus and anti-spam engines, along with highly configurable email policy filters.
We found it to be straightforward to deploy and configure. We first had to download the OVF [open virtualization format] image of the appliance and import it into our VMware vSphere environment. Once we had the template imported, we started the appliance up. After it had completed booting, we were able to access the web-based management interface for configuration. When we accessed the management interface for the first time we were greeted by a setup wizard which helped us configure basic IP and network settings, as well as a security policy. Once the wizard was complete, we were able to finetune our configuration using the management console, which - with its clean and organized layout - we found easy to navigate.
We found this appliance can be deployed to suit all environment types - from small to large and everything in-between. The Cisco Email Security appliance offers a lot of configurability for features and policy. Filtering can be applied based on users and groups through integration with Active Directory, file types and keyword and dictionary matches. When policy rules are met, several actions can be taken on the message, including quarantine, encryption of the message, various notification options, and adding of disclaimers, among other choices. This tool can also be deployed in a hybrid scenario in which all inbound email is filtered by Cisco Cloud Email Service and outbound email is handled by the on-premise appliance. This provides additional flexibility for larger environments requiring more scalability.
Documentation included several installation and administration guides in PDF format. Also included was a short guide that provided details on deploying the virtual appliance in the network using VMware vSphere. We found all manuals to be well-organized and to contain clear, step-by-step installation and configuration instructions, as well as screen shots and configuration examples.
Cisco provides software technical support as part of the subscription cost that customers are already paying. Support includes 24/7/365 phone- and email-based technical aid, as well as access to a large assistance area on the vendor website. This includes a knowledge base, user forum, product documentation downloads and many other resources.
At a cost of a little more than $3,800 for a one-year subscription for 100 to 199 users, we found this product to be a reasonable value for the money. The Cisco Email Security appliance includes a comprehensive feature set that is quite easy to manage and provides flexible deployment options. However, we did find that for some environments the subscription pricing model may be a little cost prohibitive.