The City of Jackson Information Systems Department supports all computer and telecommunication operations for the entire municipal government, including City Hall, Police, Fire, and 911 Central Dispatch. The IT infrastructure consists of 600 computer systems (including 120 in-car police units), 900 telecom users, 22 servers (including AS400, Windows, Unix, and Novell-based systems), 72 terabytes of data storage, and a fiber / wireless based network that supports staff in over 25 facilities. The mission of the Information Systems Department is to assist city employees in best serving the community. The City of Jackson uses a number of Novell applications, including GroupWise as its collaboration system. On average, 94% of the email received by city employees is either unwanted or downright malicious. Thanks to M+Guardian, these messages don’t even enter the City of Jackson’s messaging system.
The Challenges of Ensuring Email Security
Like any other public organization that relies on its collaboration system for interaction with the community, one of the most important tasks for the IS Department was to ensure that the legitimate email flow was not hindered by the ever-growing onslaught of spam email. After trying two other products and not finding a satisfactory level of protection for their environment, about 3 years ago the City of Jackson IT engineers deployed GWGuardian, Messaging Architects’ software fire-and-forget anti-spam and anti-virus solution. Right away, this made a dramatic difference to the email system, which no longer was being taxed by thousands of unwanted email messages.
Like most government agencies, budget is always a concern and organizations often need to find compromises with hardware resourcing. Thus, when GWGuardian was first deployed, the same server was allocated to house a number of other applications. This eventually started affecting the overall performance of the server, and there was a visible increase in processing time. It became clear that something needed to be done to deal with the issue.
Brian Taylor, the technician who oversaw the GWGuardian upgrade, explains, “It was evident to Kip Hatch, Network Administrator, and me that there were too many applications running on the Windows box, and they were taxing the server. We saw the need to move GWGuardian to another box and started investigating how best to approach the challenge. Incidentally, this task coincided with the time for renewal with Messaging Architects. When we explained the situation to their engineers, we were given the option of upgrading to the new M+Guardian fire-and-forget appliance. Right away, we saw the advantages of taking this step: we would free up the Windows server that was already experiencing a hit on its performance, the Linux-based appliance has all the features that had made GWGuardian such a success for us, the price was good, and in fact there were some improvements in terms of administering the solution that provided us with greater flexibility and ease of use.”
A dedicated Messaging Architects engineer assisted Taylor with the upgrade, ensuring that all the configurations were properly transferred to the new system. They fine-tuned the policy settings of the M+Guardian appliance to match the needs of the City of Jackson and then turned the new system on. “We made sure that we had moved everything over, verified the quarantine database and block lists and switched over the appliance to the live system. It worked like a champ,” continues Taylor.
With the new M+Guardian appliance, the City of Jackson has continued to provide the same level of exceptional anti-spam protection they have had for the past three years. The M+Guardian dashboard provides Taylor and his colleagues with real-time statistics about their email traffic and the amount of spam that is eliminated before it even enters their GroupWise collaboration system, which can be as much as 94% of all electronic messages.
Taylor concludes, “We like the M+Guardian appliance a lot. In some respects it’s easier to use and administer than the previous solution from Messaging Architects thanks to the web interface. We can access the administrative portal from anywhere, which gives us more flexibility when attending to our end users. I have to say that of all the IT projects we undertook in 2007, the M+Guardian appliance upgrade went more smoothly than anything else we had to deal with in our department.”
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