Cisco Offers Cloud-Based Email Security


The network giant’s hosted service has flexibility – but can it compete with existing players like Symantec and Google?

In April, Cisco will launch Cisco IronPort Email Security services, promising to let businesses choose from three different approaches to email security – managed, hosted or a combination of on-premise and cloud-based security.

“Our strategy is one of really making sure we’re able to provide that best of breed threat operations and threat intelligence in every form factor,” said Keith Valory, director of product management. “We don’t want the customer to have to compromise in terms of their threat prevention.”

But with other vendors already pushing security in the cloud, Cisco may face challenges in its latest move.

“Cisco’s new hosted email security offering is a good offering, but doesn’t do enough to distinguish them from the other cloud offerings,” said Forrester Research analyst Chenxi Wang. “The one thing that is different is that they offer a nice hybrid model, which allows people to keep certain filtering tasks, such as outbound email filtering, on premise.”

Other vendors such as Symantec and Google have been playing in the cloud for years, she noted, and already have an established presence.

“They have very nice visibility across email and Web,” Wang said. “Cisco’s Web visibility is not as extensive as some of the competitors. Will this win customers away from Symantec, Google, Trend and others? Perhaps, but I don’t see that as a given.”

Still, Cisco is moving full steam ahead. With the new product, protection is delivered via a dedicated email infrastructure hosted in a network of Cisco data centres. Unlike other hosted email security offerings, the Cisco IronPort offering has no shared infrastructure to offer organisations maximum uptime while simultaneously protecting sensitive data, Cisco officials said.

The hybrid model, meanwhile, allows customers to control inbound traffic in the cloud, while outbound controls such as data loss prevention and encryption can be handled on site. Cisco is also offering a managed service staffed by Cisco email security experts who remotely manage and monitor customers’ email infrastructure.

“Monitoring email is just one task in an ever-growing list of IT issues we confront on a daily basis,” said Richard Rothschild, senior IT director at TiVo, in a statement. “The Cisco IronPort Managed Email Security service combines the best of the traditional outsourced hosted model while keeping the appliances on my network.”