Clearswift is well-known for its MIMEsweeper filtering software, but entered two new markets in 2005. First, it introduced an appliance format of the product, and then launched a managed service with no fanfare.
The service is pretty simple, offering basic filtering services to existing MIMEsweeper customers who want to reduce the volume of incoming junk mail. But there are plans to make the full suite of MIMEsweeper functions available through the managed service.
The full suite’s excellent policy management facilities have the potential to far outstrip most of the competition, provided the company can adapt the user interface. But the appliance already features just such a frontend, so all the ingredients are there.
This rollout will be occupying most of Clearswift’s energy in the short term — there is no plan to introduce message archival and although there is internal interest in IM and web filtering, nothing is on the roadmap. We were pleased to see the services do support TLS encryption from the outset.
The company’s managed service centers are a pair of redundant facilities at tier-1 hosts in London, with a fail-over center in Sweden. Both primary centers are undergoing ISO17799 certification and were built with capacity in mind: the company guarantees five-nines uptime and will build SLAs around message latency if needed.
The current GUI is already very good. The dashboard provides not only operational statistics, but also alerts the admin of any DNS misconfiguration. The filtering rules (pending the MIMEsweeper rollout) are configured through a simple builder, not unlike MS Outlook’s local filter interface — simple and adequate, if not particularly powerful.
Multiple domains are managed from the same interface with delegated admin. A conspicuous absence was a visible admin log, but the system does track admin activity internally. Reporting is also quite basic — most useful information is available in a separate log facility where specific alerts can be monitored.
This service is acceptable now, but we expect something special when the full capability rolls out.
For: A provider with established credentials and customers in message filtering and policy management, and a great product.
Against: More important features have yet to roll out.
Verdict: Top-class filtering and policy management as a managed service.