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Moving from Barracuda Spam Filtering to Google Message Security (Postini)

August 5, 2010 Leave a comment
  • System Notes: Barracuda Spam & Virus Firewall 300

At the organization that I work for, we decided to move from an internally hosted Barracuda Spam & Virus Firewall 300 appliance to externally hosted Google Message Security (Postini) for spam filtering. This will have several benefits, the primary one being that we save the Internet bandwidth that was previously being used for inbound spam messages that just ended up getting dumped by the Barracuda in the first place. We also save on the power, rack space, and potential failure of the Barracuda device itself.

This decision was not made because of dissatisfaction with the Barracuda. It has worked very well over the past 5 years, and our only ongoing complaint is the incredibly slow response of both the user and administrative interfaces (as an aside, when I asked Barracuda Support about this, they suggested using Chrome or Safari due to the fact that the JavaScript engines are much faster in those browsers; I did so, and they were right; but this doesn’t help the fact that we are like most organizations and standardized on Internet Explorer internally).

So far, after a month of use, the Google Message Security system is working well. The users have adjusted with very little complaint, and I have received some appreciation that the Google interface is much faster than the Barracuda, and also that they can access their spam quarantines remotely.

Here are some of the differences I have found between the Barracuda and the Google Message Security (Postini) interface:

  1. GMS (Postini) blocks more spam than the Barracuda. My own account was averaging 3 spam messages a day with the Barracuda, I now average 1 spam every 3 days.
  2. GMS (Postini) shows much more offensive spam in the user quarantine than the Barracuda did. So far, no user complaints with this, but some of the spam messages subjects I have seen showing up in the quarantine are just about as sexually offensive as you can get. This was not the case with the Barracuda, it seems it did a better job of blocking sexual content outright.
  3. GMS (Postini) only saves quarantined messages for 14 days. The Barracuda was adjustable, and we had ours configured to store messages for 90 days.
  4. The GMS (Postini) Reports are not configurable for daily/weekly/monthly delivery. I put in a support request about this, still a no go. I will miss the daily quick summary reports of both total and spam message activity that the Barracuda provided. I hope this is a feature that GMS adds in the future.
  5. The only way to report a message as spam that landed in a user Inbox with GMS (Postini) is to forward the message in question as an attachment to spam@postini.com. There isn’t a nice one-click button you can add to the toolbar in Outlook as there was with the Barracuda. Also, the spam message must be sent as an attachment, and not just forwarded. I’ve already spent time training several users on how to do this.

Overall, the conversion to Google Message Security (Postini) went very well. This was our first test of putting a service “in the cloud,” but I don’t think it will be our last.

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