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Symantec Moves Into Hosted E-Mail Security

Managed E-mail security service will fight spam and viruses while offering ease of use and a lower price, vendor says.

Symantec Corp. wants to take the garbage out of your E-mail before it arrives. Symantec Hosted Mail Security, rolled out Thursday, incorporates the company's anti-spam and antivirus technologies in a managed service.

Symantec Hosted Mail Security adds to the company's existing enterprise-security offerings, which include perimeter-protection appliances, gateway-based anti-spam and security software, and application-specific protection for Microsoft Exchange and IBM/Lotus Domino mail servers.

Ease of use and deployment and lower ownership costs are the primary selling points of outsourced E-mail security, Enrique Salem, senior VP of security products and solutions at Symantec, said in a statement.

"There's a market for hosted solutions of this type that mostly appeal to the small- to medium-sized business segment," says Sara Radicati, president and CEO of the Radicati Group, a messaging market-research firm. "It's very positive to have another strong player with a lot of expertise offer a hosted solution."

At the same time, hosted services haven't proven as popular as product-based solutions, Radicati says. "As a kind of knee-jerk reaction, companies do prefer to manage their own E-mail, and there's a lot of reluctance to let that go," she says. "It's not necessarily rooted in any logic, because if you look at costs, the hosted solution is more beneficial." It's rooted in fear, she says. Security concerns keep companies from embracing hosted E-mail services.

Among potential customers who see danger in the attacks coming from increasingly sophisticated spammers, phishers, and hackers, Symantec's reputation may help overcome that fear. But it's also causing concern among the pioneers in the hosted E-mail security market.

Symantec is falsely claiming to be the only vendor that offers E-mail security as an appliance, as software, and as a managed service, a spokeswoman for Proofpoint Inc. says in an E-mail message. Coincidentally, Proofpoint plans next week to debut its Managed Service Provider Partner Program, a way for resellers to offer the company's products and services to their customers as a hosted system.

A separate E-mail from a Postini Inc. spokeswoman included a quote attributed to Scott Petry, the company's founder and senior VP of products: "We see Symantec's news about getting into the hosted service market as further evidence of the tremendous growth and potential for a managed-service model in enterprise E-mail security."

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