Blackpool and The Fylde College loves Netmail

Challenge

To protect the email system at Blackpool and The Flyde College, the College was using Guinevere, an open source product, which over time was getting less and less reliable, until it became completely unsuited to the growing volume of email and spam associated with large environments.

Solution

When Blackpool and The Fylde College began searching for a new anti-spam technology, there were several must-have requirements: a highly efficient, low-maintenance solution that would integrate easily into the academic institution's highly virtualised IT environment. Netmail delivered on the tall order.

Results

From the moment Netmail Secure was turned on, the College noticed a dramatic difference. Over a sample period of 26 days, the College receives 1,410,615 emails, or about 54,254 messages a day. On average, 90% of all messages is spam that Netmail Secure prevents from getting through into the email system.

Overview

When Blackpool and The Fylde College began searching for a new anti-spam technology, there were several must-have requirements: a highly efficient, low-maintenance solution that would integrate easily into the academic institution's highly virtualised IT environment. Netmail Secure delivered on the tall order.

Background

As a Beacon college with a national reputation for innovation and excellence in learning, Blackpool and The Fylde College’s achievements are the result of the exceptional effort and commitment of staff and students alike. The College is one of the largest schools in further education and higher education in the UK and offers remarkably diverse programmes. The College works closely with schools on the Fylde coast and offers education to adult students, many of whom are sponsored by their employers. The College also offers university degrees validated by Lancaster University.

Business Challenge: A Low-Maintenance and Efficient Anti-Spam Solution to Meet the College's Needs for a Secure Virtualised Email Infrastructure

Keeping in line with technological innovation, Blackpool and The Fylde College has a fully virtualised IT infrastructure built on the VMware vSphere platform. All business applications operate in a virtual environment, including the Novell GroupWise collaboration system. Some 15 thousand students and 1500 academic and support staff spread out on 4 different campus sites are connected by a common network. Novell Identity Manager keeps IT operations efficient and streamlined.

Historically, email has been in use at the College for over 15 years. Both academic staff and students are provided with email accounts with the institution's domain name. Student email accounts are tied to the length of time students are enrolled in the school. An account is suspended once the student completes the programme. Simon Bailey, in charge of the College's entire network, talks about the school's strong culture of identity management and how it relates to email. "We have a tightly integrated system that largely works without problems. The academic email address is exclusively used for academic purposes. This allows the staff to be sure they're targeting enrolled individuals. The institution controls traffic of the academic email. Students use their personal email for social interactions outside the College." The benefit of this approach is that the College hasn't experienced a capacity issue, which is quite common in many other institutions. Student utilisation of the email system is relatively low and directly tied in to educational needs. Quotas on the staff accounts keep the overall email volume in check.

For over a year now, Netmail Secure has been protecting the email system of Blackpool and The Fylde College from spam, viruses and other email-borne threats. Prior to implementing Netmail Secure, the College was using Guinevere, an open source product, which over time was getting less and less reliable, until it became completely unsuited to the growing volume of email and spam associated with large corporate environments."It really got to the point where we had to move to an alternative product," recalls Bailey. "Spam was causing a huge headache for senior managers, especially with inappropriate and offensive messages. We needed to find an efficient and low-maintenance solution that would make the problem go away as quickly as possible."

Critical Requirements

  • Flexible and accurate filtering engine
  • Highly efficient, low-maintenance email security solution
  • Ability to integrate into the College's virtualised IT environment

Results with Netmail Secure

“We were able to unpack the Netmail Secure virtual machine and fit it in our existing virtualised infrastructure with minimal effort. We are delighted with the way Netmail Secure performs and I am pleased we switched to this solution - it has been virtually no hassle whatsoever. That, for any IT product, is quite a statement.” - Simon Bailey, Blackpool and the Fylde College. Bailey learned about Netmail Secure at a Novell TTP partner session. What immediately attracted him to the solution was the fact that Netmail Secure came as a virtual appliance. He was ready to proceed with a trial installation right away. "We were able to unpack the Netmail Secure virtual machine and fit it in our existing virtualised infrastructure with minimal effort. After the remarkably easy set-up, we ran it as a trial for about a week. Already then, everything I could see suggested the appliance would exactly meet our needs and so we went ahead with the purchase."

Netmail Secure: Superior Anti-Spam Technology for a Virtualised Collaboration Environment

From the moment Netmail Secure was turned on, Simon Bailey noticed a dramatic difference. "From the start, the amount of spam removed by Netmail Secure was staggering." Over a sample period of 26 days, the College receives 1,410,615 emails, or about 54,254 messages a day. On average, 90% of all messages is spam that Netmail Secure prevents from getting through into the email system. The Netmail Secure filtering engines are highly accurate both with spam catch rates and false positive rates. "I don't remember hearing of a single false positive report or complaint with Netmail Secure which is pretty impressive," says Bailey. "This was an especially serious problem with the old Guinevere product: every time we lifted the bar to try to contain the influx of spam, the level of false positives also increased and resulted in people losing email. From an IT staff perspective it is an expensive thing to correct on a day-by-day basis." Moreover, Netmail Secure is flexible enough to be configured in a way to suit the specific needs of the staff. "Some users want to receive daily quarantine reports, while others don't want to be bothered because they just trust the solution," explains Bailey. "And I just don't hear reports of false positives. This is a very strong recommendation indeed."

The Netmail Secure appliance requires no day-to-day administration by the IT staff. "That's pretty good. I am responsible for 20 IT staff here at the College and we have plenty to do," continues Bailey. "At one point we had to make a slight re-configuration about the way we route outbound email, but that was an internal change we had to make. Otherwise, we don't need to spend time managing the appliance. 99% of the time we don't have to do anything with it at all." At the moment email content is controlled by the College's official Acceptable Email Usage policy. If the College adopts a future content monitoring policy, Netmail Secure would allow its enforcement seamlessly to the end users.

The Bottom Line: The Switch to Netmail Secure - an Unqualified Success

When Simon Bailey began his search for a new anti-spam technology, he had several must-have requirements: a highly efficient, low-maintenance solution that would integrate easily into the academic institution's highly virtualised IT environment. Netmail Secure delivered on the tall order. Since its implementation, the IT Department hasn't experienced any significant issues with the appliance.

The Bottom Line

Simon Bailey On-line Developments Manager at Blackpool and The Fylde College