Symantec Mail Series Makes Midmarket Splash

Symantec's new Mail Security 8200 series of security appliances promises to bring enterprise-class e-mail security to the midsize-business market.
Midsize business have traditionally been overlooked in the security market and often have to rely on poorly integrated tools to meet their e-mail protection needs. Tools designed for small businesses do not provide enough protection, and enterprise-class tools often include too much power, overwhelming functionality and high management overhead. In most cases, spam filtering is done either on the e-mail server or at the desktop level, while antivirus and malware protection is scattered across various network resources. Adding to that management nightmare is the fact that very few of these ill-fitting products offer integration with network directories or management consoles, making security difficult—sometimes even impossible—to manage properly.

Symantec's new Mail Security 8200 series of security appliances promises to bring enterprise-class e-mail security to the midsize-business market. The 8200 series combines common security features with advanced e-mail filtering to protect networks of 100 to more than 1,000 users.

Symantec hopes to fill a niche in the e-mail protection market with the 8200 series, which is currently available in two models—the 8240 for 100 to 1,000 users and the 8260 for more than 1,000 users. Both are 1U rack-mountable units. The 8240 incorporates a 2.8GHz Pentium 4 processor with 1.5 Gbytes of RAM, while the 8260 has dual 3GHz Xeon processors and 2 Gbytes of RAM.

For redundancy, the 8240 includes dual 40-Gbyte hard drives, while the 8260 offers dual 73-Gbyte hard drives, redundant power supplies and fans. Both units offer antispam, antivirus, traffic shaping, LDAP integration capabilities and policy-based rules.

Symantec's 8200 series models are managed through a browser-based, wizard-driven management console. CRN Test Center engineers were impressed with the simplicity of the management tasks and especially with the fact that solution providers should be able to deploy the unit in less than an hour. While many solutions simply focus on incoming network traffic, Symantec emphasizes outbound network traffic as well. This is a great feature for enforcing company e-mail polices or meeting legislative compliance requirements. The e-mail content filtering engine is easy to deploy and incredibly robust, allowing even the most complicated rule sets to be broken down into simple, easily audited steps.

Symantec offers several levels of antispam configurations, ranging from an end-user-controllable quarantine box with whitelist and blacklist support to a fully automated, administrator-defined process. The integrated antivirus engine offers automatic updates and full antivirus scans of both incoming and outgoing e-mail. The 8200 series units are set up so that all e-mail passes through them via a proxy-style implementation to enforce a layered approach to security. The units offer LDAP integration to further simplify deployment. User lists are gathered from the network's LDAP directory and are synchronized between the device and the network.

The 8200 series includes 55 canned reports and allows administrators to create custom reports. Reports can be automatically delivered via e-mail. Solution providers will find plenty of opportunity here, since they can sell not only the hardware but the software and increased functionality as a subscription as well.

Symantec has hit a sweet spot in the market with the 8200 series. CRN Test Center engineers believe it could be one of the best e-mail protection appliances for the midmarket, one that combines ironclad protection for end users and creates ample opportunity for solution providers.

Symantec restructured its global channel program in May 2004 to better map partner categories to customer market segments and more closely align the program with partners' customer focus. The newly revamped partner categories—Enterprise Security Partner, Enterprise Administration Partner, Enterprise Solutions Partner, Enterprise Sales Partner, Premier Software Partner and Software Partner—are now based on a reseller's business model and customer base. Margins average 7 percent to 14 percent. Symantec's online partner portal, PartnerPromos, provides access to ongoing promotions, incentives, rebates and pre- approved collateral materials. A section of the online portal called PartnerMarketing develops co-branded direct mail and e-mail campaigns targeted at specific customer bases. Symantec offers free Web-based sales training to all partners. Traditional instructor-led training is also available.

Editor's Choice
Mary E. Shacklett, President of Transworld Data
James M. Connolly, Contributing Editor and Writer